DCI - Palestine submits 14 cases of sexual assault and threats to the UN for investigation

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[Ramallah, 18 May 2010] - On 18 May 2010, DCI-Palestine submitted 14 cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for investigation. The submission relates to the sexual assault, or threat of sexual assault, of Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli soldiers, interogators and police between January 2009 and April 2010. The ages of the children range from 13 to 16 years.

DCI-Palestine is becoming increasingly alarmed at reports contained in sworn affidavits received from children that they are being subjected to sexual assault, or threat of sexual assault, in order to obtain confessions.

DCI-Palestine has reviewed 100 sworn affidavits collected from children in 2009, and in four percent of cases, children report being sexually assaulted, whilst in 12 percent of cases, the children report being threatened with sexual assault. The sexual assault and threats of sexual assault documented by DCI-Palestine include grabbing boys by the testicles until they confess and threatening boys as young as 13 years with rape unless they confess to throwing stones at Israeli settler vehicles in the occupied West Bank. DCI-Palestine suspects that these figures may understate the extent of the problem.

In one of the cases documented by DCI-Palestine, a 15 year-old boy recalls his experience after being arrested by Israeli soldiers from his family home at 2am, in September 2009: 'While sitting on the ground near the truck, a person speaking Arabic approached me and grabbed my hands and ordered me to stand up and accompany him. He grabbed me so violently and pulled me. He forced me to walk with him for about 20 metres and I could see from under the blindfold that we stopped behind a military jeep. He slapped me hard twice and grabbed my testicles so hard and started pressing them. Then, he asked me whether I threw stones and Molotov cocktails and I said I did not. He started shouting and saying 'liar, your mother's a c**t.' He started beating me all over my body and once again he grabbed my testicles and started pressing hard. "I won't let go of your testicles unless you confess," he said to me. I felt so much pain and kept shouting. I had no other choice but to confess to throwing stones.'

Each year around 700 Palestinian children are arrested, interrogated and prosecuted in the Israeli military courts. The most common charge is for throwing stones. The children are interrogated in the absence of a lawyer and family members and in 2009, over 80 percent of these children provided confessions after a coercive interrogation, of which 32 percent were written in Hebrew, a language few Palestinian children understand. Following their conviction in the military courts, the majority of these children are incarcerated inside Israel in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

DCI-Palestine is requesting that the Special Rapporteur investigates these and other reports relating to the apparent widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to publish the findings.

For further information please see DCI-Palestine's latest report on Palestinian child prisoners.