by Cecilie, Summer Team
I went to the military court Monday to see a friend receive his sentence. His case is one of 10 cases of boys being arrested for throwing stones that we have been following since December. He works for the Palestinian Red Crescent and is therefore present at many demonstrations and other kinds of crowds. This has worsened his case. It does not help that he is required to go there as part of his work. His presence is enough. The Israeli military also think they remember him throwing stones in 2003 and 2006. They have no proof of this, but that is not really needed.
Our friend lost his mother in April. He was not allowed to say goodbye to her, to see her one last time or to go to the funeral. I have seen his father two times, and it is absolutely devastating. There is nothing left of him. He keeps to himself sitting in a corner with tears running down his cheeks. People try to help him, but it’s no use. The last four times I have been to the court, only his brother was present. The father cannot cope with it. Seeing the brother is no less devastating, even though he cries only on occasion.
This week, our 21 year old friend was sentenced with 14 months in prison and a fine of 3000 NIS for throwing stones in December, maybe throwing stones in 2003 and 2006, and being employed in the Palestinian Red Crescent.
This family has been hit hard; way harder than anyone deserves. Hopefully, by the beginning of 2014 it will be over.
All of these 10 boys, have been kept in arrest for eight months without a sentence, due to Israel’s understanding of what is called Administrative Detention. Under administrative detention it is possible to keep a detainee arrested without any criminal charge, and without any trial.
International Humanitarian law places strict restrictions on administrative detention, because of the risk of abuse in detaining a person without charge or trial. Under Article 78 under the Fourth Geneva Convention an occupying power may use administrative detention, but only for “imperative reasons of security” and not as a means of punishment under any circumstance. Moreover, Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.”
The Israeli authorities, however, use administrative detention as an obvious mean of punishment, and it is today an integral part of Israel’s military legal system. Some prisoners have been kept for one month to six years based in administrative detention under the accusation of “security reasons,” however, neither the detainees nor their attorneys are allowed to see the “secret evidence” against them.
It has taken me three and a half months to be able to write about the military court. The injustice and inhumane treatment of people in that place is hard to deal with, and even harder to describe properly. The military court is possibly one of the worst places to visit, and the Israeli military forces families to come back again and again when they are not able to give these young men a sentence. I am going back there again in the beginning of August and so are the eight families that are still waiting for a sentence…
There are worrying developments though
We may always have to deal with those who oppose our work, but we are encouraged by the recent visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury, which is the beginning of a strengthened relationship between EAPPI and the Church of England. http://eappi.org/en/news/eappi-news/se.html?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=16889&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=4566&cHash=035c0580127d8f1af687ac5e0c59de23
While serving with EAPPI in March, I also attended military court. I am still unable to write about the experience. My heart reaches out to these young boys and their families, and to you as you provide ongoing accompaniment to them.