Ahed Tamimi’s Arrest Breach of Geneva Convention: UN Expert
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A UN rights expert said the detention of Ahed Tamimi, a teenage girl who became a hero to Palestinians after she was filmed slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank, is in obvious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
“The offenses that Ms. Tamimi has been charged with, even taken at their highest, would not appear to present a danger to the public order, and could instead be dealt with during her pre-trial period with an order to be in her village and report to a neighboring police station on a regular basis. She has been incarcerated for almost two months for offenses that, in most countries which follow the rule of law, would have been handled with minimal, if any, imprisonment. As such, there appears to be no proportionality between the alleged offenses and the length of her incarceration,” Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
Michael Lynk is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Western University, in London, Ontario. He joined the Faculty in 1999, and has taught courses in labour, human rights, disability, constitutional and administrative law. He served as Associate Dean of the Faculty between 2008-11.
The following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: Do you believe that Israel is violating the international Convention on the Rights of the Child by detaining a Palestinian teenager for slapping an Israeli soldier?
Lynk: Article 37(b) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child expressly states, “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;” As well, Article 37 requires that the best interests of the child be a primary consideration. The offenses that Ms. Tamimi has been charged with, even taken at their highest, would not appear to present a danger to the public order, and could instead be dealt with during her pre-trial period with an order to be in her village and report to a neighboring police station on a regular basis. She has been incarcerated for almost two months for offenses that, in most countries which follow the rule of law, would have been handled with minimal, if any, imprisonment. As such, there appears to be no proportionality between the alleged offenses and the length of her incarceration.
I also note that, as a protected person under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Ms. Tamimi is required to be detained within the occupied territory. She is instead imprisoned at Hasharon prison, within Israel, a violation of Article 76 of the 4GC.
Tasnim: Ahed Tamimi’s trial is being held behind closed doors. What is your take on this based on international legal standards?
Lynk: The rule of law demands that every court proceeding, particularly one involving criminal offenses, shall be open to the public. The exceptions to this rule are narrow, involving such issues as public security, personal reputation, or that the public interest demands a restriction or ban on an open court. I understand that Ms. Tamimi’s lawyer expressly requested an open court, yet the military judge nevertheless ordered the court proceedings to be closed to protect her. I also note that there was a substantial crowd wanting to witness the proceedings, which the Tamimi family welcomed. The public’s confidence in the Israeli military court system to deliver justice, as required by international standards, is substantially diminished by such a ruling.
Tasnim: “Figures from Palestine show that Israel detains and prosecutes between 500 to 700 Palestinian children in military courts annually", you noted in a recent address. Would you elaborate?
Lynk: The international NGO Defence of Children International -- Palestine reports that Israel has the distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children each year in its military courts in the West Bank. These children lack fundamental rights regarding due process and fair trials. The DCIP, using statistics from the Israeli Prison Service, says that an average of 310 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system each month. Approximately 60 of these children were between 12 and 15 years old. Many of them have reported abuse, intimidation and some form of physical violence while they were in custody. Some have been kept in solitary confinement or have been subject to administrative detention (where there are imprisoned without charge or trial, often based on secret evidence). These conditions are in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Tasnim: Do you believe that Palestinian children are commonly mistreated while in Israel’s detention and subjected to both physical and psychological abuse?
Lynk: Reputable international organizations – such as UNICEF and Defence of Children International – Palestine have regularly reported that Palestinian children have been abused while in detention.