Cell No. 36' - DCI-Palestine submits 13 cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

[Ramallah, 6 January 2010] - On 6 January 2010, DCI-Palestine submitted 13 cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for investigation. The cases relate to the ill-treatment, and in some cases torture, of Palestinian children being held at the notorious Al Jalame Interrogation and Detention Centre near Haifa, in Israel, between February 2008 and March 2009.

In each case, boys between the ages of 16 and 17, report being held in 'Cell No. 36' at the Interrogation Centre. 'Cell No. 36' is described as measuring approximately 2 x 3 metres in which the child is forced to sleep on a concrete bed or a thin mattress on the floor. Meals are passed to the child through a flap in the door depriving him of all human contact. One child reports being held in solitary confinement in 'Cell No 36' for 65 days.

The walls of 'Cell No. 36' are reported to be grey in colour with sharp protrusions preventing the child from leaning against them for support. Perhaps more disturbingly, 'Cell No. 36' does not have any windows and only a single dim yellow light which is kept on 24 hours a day. Some children report suffering pain behind their eyes and adverse psychological effects after being detained in 'Cell No. 36'.

It appears that the dominant purpose for detaining children in 'Cell No. 36' is to break their spirits in order to extract confessions. This conclusion is supported by the testimony of one child who states that 'on the 10th day of interrogation and because I was under so much pressure, I decided to confess so as to get out of the cell.' All of the children report being kept in 'Cell No. 36' between lengthy interrogation sessions in which clearly prohibited techniques were utilised, such as excessive shackling of the legs and hands as well as position abuse.

Children held in Al Jalame for interrogation are denied access to a lawyer and do not receive family visits, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and multiple human rights treaties. No education is provided to the children at this facility. Further, the detention of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory in Al Jalame is in clear violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which states that an occupying power must detain residents of occupied territory in prisons inside the territory i.e. in the West Bank.

DCI-Palestine has requested that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture investigates and reports on the allegations of ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children at the Al Jalame facility.

There are currently 306 Palestinian children being held in Israeli detention facilities. For further information please see DCI-Palestine's latest report on child detainees.