Israel: lawyer can’t accompany 14 year old sexual assault victim
DCI-Palestine and PCATI request investigation in assault case
On 20 September 2010, DCI-Palestine and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) wrote to the Judge Advocate General’s office requesting an immediate investigation into the alleged assault of a 14-year-old boy in May 2010, in which an interrogator is alleged to have attached a set of car jump leads to the boy’s genitals.
DCI-Palestine and PCATI submitted complaints against the army and police in the case on 15 August 2010, and requested that the boy be accompanied by a lawyer of his choice throughout the investigation process. The request that the boy be accompanied by a lawyer is based on two factors:
Under Article 14 of the Rights of Victims of Crimes Law (2001) (Israel), victims of violent crime, including sex crimes, are entitled to be accompanied by a lawyer unless the investigating officer has reasonable grounds to believe that this will harm the investigation.
It is unreasonable to request a 14-year-old Palestinian child to attend an interview conducted by the Military Police, which must be considered as an integral part of the army and police force against whom the complaint is made. Further, the Military Police requested that the boy attend an interview with investigators at the Etzion facility, the same location where the alleged abuse is said to have taken place. The boy is understandably fearful of further contact with Israeli authorities. No less important is the consideration that the investigation must arrive at the truth while protecting the child from further trauma.
On 18 September 2010, DCI-Palestine was telephoned by the investigation authority and informed that if the boy insisted on being accompanied by a lawyer ‘the complaint will be archived and the process terminated.’ The only reason given as to why the boy can not be accompanied was that ‘the lawyer might affect the child’s testimony.’ However, no explanation or evidence was provided to support this suggestion, and the decision appears to be arbitrary and unreasonable.
In response, DCI-Palestine and PCATI have written to the Judge Advocate General requesting:
Acknowledgment in writing of receipt of the complaint dated 15 August 2010;
Reconsideration of the verbal advice not to permit the boy to be accompanied by a lawyer of his choice throughout the investigatory process; and
In the event that the investigatory authorities insist on preventing the boy from being accompanied by a lawyer, to provide comprehensive and detailed reasons in writing for the decision within 14 days.