Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) condemns the arrest and the ongoing detention of Omar Abdel Bari Al Abed Abu Fool, 17. The decision issued on 7 April 2016 to deny Abu Fool consultation with a lawyer deprives him of his rights to a due process, and his family and Al Mezan from obtaining information pertaining to the circumstances of his arrest and the interrogation procedure. Al Mezan fears that the victim has been subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
On 7 April 2016, at 7:10 AM, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stationed at the eastern border arrested Omar Abdel Bari Al Abed Abu Fool when he approached the separation barrier east of Abu Safia, northeast of Jabalia, in the district of North Gaza. His mother told Al Mezan that her son left the house for the dawn prayer and did not return. At 11 AM, Abu Fool’s mother received a phone call from a person claiming to be an officer in the Israeli army. He told her that Omar had been arrested and was held in Ashkelon prison. He added that Omar would be presented in front of a judge for a case hearing on Monday, 11 April 2016. It should be noted that the Israeli authorities prevented lawyers from attending this session, where Omar’s detention period was extended until 13 April 2016.
Omar is a resident of Beit Lahia in North Gaza and is a student at the Vocational Training program at the Middle East Council of Churches in Gaza.
Al Mezan’s lawyers have been following the case since its inception, but have been denied access to the detainee. Al Mezan fears that Omar has been subjected to physical and/or psychological torture under which he may have given what is being considered a confession.
Al Mezan asserts that Israel’s treatment of Omar Abu Fool constitutes a serious violation of International Human Rights Law, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which maintains that “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” (Art. 37(b)). The CRC further details that “[e]very child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance” (Art. 37(d)). Arbitrary and unlawful arrest of a child is strictly prohibited (Art. 37(b)). Critically, no child should be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, which notably Israel maintains as a regular practice against Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the continued and escalating practice of arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinian children, and the infliction of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Al Mezan demands that the Israeli authorities promptly allow Abu Fool to meet his lawyer. Al Mezan also calls on the international community to promptly intervene to put an end to such violations, and protect civilians, including children.