Case Study - October 15, 2002
M, a 16 year old Palestinian girl, was arrested on her way to school on 13 June 2002 at 8 am and taken by Israeli soldier to the military base at Ein Etzion. She was made to wait outside in the sun, with her hands cuffed, without water or food until 2pm. She was then brought to the Etzion police station and interrogated by a single policeman.
At 2:30 pm, she was offered food but refused to eat it, being too frightened to eat. She was then forced to sign a statement saying that she had refused to eat. At that point, she was prepared to sign anything in order to be released.
Under these constraints and fears, aware of what treatment the soldier can inflict upon arrested Palestinian, she signed a document written in Hebrew containing confessions used by the prosecutor in her case.
The next day, M was moved to Al Ramla prison were all Palestinian women and girls (47 including, 2 minors) are detained with Israeli criminal prisoners and only separated from them by a fence.
From the first day of her arrest, her lawyer, provided by Addameer, attempted several times to visit her at the detention center. The first time, after having to go through an extensive body search, the authorities told the lawyer that it was too late for visits. Two days later, he tried again and after waiting for many hours, was told that she was at court. However, due to the absence of the legal counsel, the hearing was postponed for 4 days.
On 20 June, M was brought before a judge once more. Her detention was extended for an additional 5 days and she was to be brought before the court again on 25 June. Her lawyer was able to visit her during these 5 days.
On the 25 June, the police decided not to take her to her court hearing, and she remained in her cell.
The lawyer reacted immediately against this legal failure and the police agreed by phone to release her. Everything had been arranged with the ICRC for her release as the lawyer was told she would be released around midnight. The entire West Bank at that time was under strict curfew and the police wanted to drop her at a checkpoint. The arrangements made with the ICRC was that they would wait for her at the checkpoint, find her a safe place to spend the night and bring her home the next day. All this was cancelled when the police called again saying they would release her only the next morning for security reason.
But the next morning, instead of releasing her, she was brought to a judge who renewed her detention yet again. Between 25 - 26 June, M was being detained illegally. In 2 hearings, without informing the lawyer in advance, they read the list of charges against her and decided on her detention until the end of the trial.
On the 25 June, M’s father was at the court. He hadn’t seen his daughter since her arrest. Upon the lawyer?s insistence, he was only allowed to shake her hand without saying a word to her.
Another hearing took place on August 11 in the presence of an American lawyers delegation. Their presence made it possible for the mother to hug her crying daughter for a few seconds.
On 22 September, M was again brought before the court without her lawyer being informed. The hearing was again cancelled due to the lack of legal counsel.
On the 13 October, Addameer received a phone call from Ofer’s military court saying that M was there and that they were waiting for the lawyer. Not informed in advance, the lawyer was busy in another court and impossible to reach. However they wrote in the protocol of the court that he was informed of the hearing in advance. The lawyer submitted an official complaint against this.
The military prosecutor requested over 3 years of imprisonment in regards to M’s case. The next hearing is scheduled to take place on 6 November. Great pressure is being placed on the lawyer to shorten the period of his plea, disregarding the life of this young girl. Her charges are based on illegal confessions, and the requested sentencing does not take into consideration her status as a child, in contravention of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
Conditions of detention
As is the case for all Palestinian minors in Israeli jails, M is detained together with adults. She is usually placed in a cell with another detained minor but this often changes. The wardens can come at any time, often in the middle of the night, and take detainees to other cells. She is only allowed outside the cell for half an hour a day, in a bird-cage-like wired yard of around 50 meters square.
She is denied any access to education, and is not offered any items of entertainment.
In addition to the violation of the International rights of the child inflicted upon all Palestinian minors, she is facing the same harsh detention conditions as other Palestinian women: no family visits, no contact with the outside world except expired newspapers, no adequate health care, current humiliations and ill-treatments, etc.
To address the issue of the abuse of their basic human rights, female detainees began a hunger strike in August for 15 days, drinking only lightly sugared water throughout this period. The response of the prison authorities was harsh, with M being placed in solitary confinement for a period of 3 days.
The American delegation of lawyers who were present in one of her hearings, were extremely shocked by M’s conditions of detention and have begun a campaign for her release.