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The HCJ rejects HaMoked petition to reinvestigate prison warder’s violence towards juvenile detainee: “This court does not intervene in such decisions, except in exceptional and extreme cases”

On September 7, 2020, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to demand renewed investigation of an incident in April 2018 in which a 17-year-old teenager from East Jerusalem was struck by a prison guard. The petition was filed following the closure of HaMoked’s complaint on the minor’s behalf to the National Prison Wardens Investigation Unit (NPWIU), and the rejection – in July 2020, over two years after the incident – of HaMoked’s administrative appeal to reopen the case.

In the petition, HaMoked also demanded a review of the original investigation’s failures – including the very limited documentation included in the investigation file, which did not even include any medical records about the injury, nor CCTV footage of the entrance to the detention facility. Additionally, HaMoked demanded that a new procedure be formulated, requiring the authorities to initiate examination of incidents of violence against inmates, particularly minors, which would include a reasonable deadline for the examination, and a mechanism ensuring potentially relevant evidence would not be destroyed before it is properly considered (this, given that the CCTV footage in this case was deleted some two and a half weeks after the incident, allegedly as a matter of routine).

However, on December 6, 2020, the HCJ summarily dismissed the petition. The court unreservedly accepted the state’s claim that “the absence of digital documentation likely arises from the time gap between the date of the event and the filing of the complaint”. The HCJ ruled there is no room for its intervention in such investigations – except in exceptional and extreme cases “in which it is possible to point to a severe flaw which touches upon the root of the matter” – “and especially when the decision… relies on the absence of sufficient evidence…”.

Thus in a feeble ruling, the court avoided reviewing the failures in documentation and the conduct of the law enforcement system, and thus turned down the youth’s demand that his complaint be taken seriously and HaMoked’s demand to compel systemic changes to ensure effective investigation of complaints of violence in prisons.

Israel routinely violates the rights of Palestinian minors who are held in the custody of Israeli security forces – the Israel Police, the Israel Security Agency (ISA), and the Israel Prison Service (IPS). Violations take place during the arrest, during interrogation and inside incarceration facilities. As part of its efforts against this routine harm to Palestinian minors, HaMoked recently issued a report titled “Under Cover of Darkness: Night Arrests of Palestinian Minors by Israeli Security Forces in the West Bank”. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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