Israel to shorten pre-trial detention of Palestinian children

00:00 Dec 18 2012 West Bank and Israel

ERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Tuesday decided to shorten the detention period of Palestinian children before they appear in court, Israeli radio reported.

Palestinian children aged under 14 will appear in court within 24 hours of arrest, and those aged between 14 and 16 will appear in court within 48 hours, Voice of Israel radio said.

Legal procedures for Palestinians aged 17 must be completed within a year, but this period can be extended by three months, according to the report.

The decision followed criticism from Israel's high court over the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli custody, after the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoner Affairs filed a petition protesting the detention of children.

Unlike Israeli minors, Palestinian children are not accompanied by their parents during interrogations. They are usually transferred to Israeli jails, a practice that is illegal under international law.

Defense for Children International - Palestine section found that many Palestinian children sign confessions in Hebrew without understanding the language, and 87 percent are refused bail.

In an April report, the organization said Palestinian children were subject to systematic ill-treatment and, in some cases, torture in Israeli custody.

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