Amnesty demands release for Palestinian teen detained without charge

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SHAFAQNA – Amnesty International called for the release of 17-year-old Palestinian Muhammad al-Hashlamoun, one of two minors the group says Israel is holding without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Al-Hashlamoun was detained on Dec. 3 when around 40 Israeli Border Police officers and Shin Bet members raided the building where he lives in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

Amnesty reported that the teen was taken to a Shin Bet interrogation center located within Jerusalem’s Russian Compound detention center, where he was held for 18 days before being transferred to Ashkelon prison for four days.

Israeli authorities asked al-Hashlamoun repeatedly about his plans to carry out attacks in Jerusalem — plans the teen denied — before being ordered by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court to house arrest for one week, alongside a $1,260 fine on Jan. 20.

Despite the ruling, Amnesty said Israeli Minister of Defense, Moshe Yaalon, issued al-Hashlamoun an administrative detention order.

While the order expires on June 20, administrative detention orders are renewable and allow authorities to hold individuals without charge indefinitely.

The 17-year-old‘s mother told Amnesty she visited her son in Megiddo prison where she found him “tired and anxious.”

Amnesty demanded Israeli authorities to release the teen “unless he is charged with an internationally recognizable offence and tried in accordance with international standards of fairness,” highlighting Israel’s neglect of international law regarding rights of minors.

Over 400 Palestinian minors were being held in Israeli prisons at the end of December. The number included six held under administrative detention, four of whom were released in January.

Israel used the measure against minors for the first time in nearly four years in October, when forces detained three Palestinian teens from Jerusalem in October on suspicion of throwing stones, according to Defense for Children International’s Palestine branch.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP, said the organization was “deeply disturbed by the detentions.”

“Administrative detention must never be used as a substitute for criminal prosecution where there is insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction,” Abu Eqtaish said.

Israel’s use of administrative detention on Palestinians living under military occupation has long been criticized by members of the international community who argue the practice is used excessively, in contravention of its intended use under international law.

A spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Defense was not immediately available for comment on al-Hashlamoun’s administrative detention.

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