Israel: 15-year-old Palestinian Sentenced to Six And a Half Years Imprisonment for an Allegedly Stabbing Attempt


On 17 July 2016, the Israeli Central Criminal Court issued a verdict sentencing Muawiya Alqam, a 15-year-old from Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, to six and a half years imprisonment and to pay a fine of 26,000 shekels (about 6,750$). Muawiya was violently arrested in 2015 and deprived of his basic fair trial rights, a discriminatory treatment applied to Palestinians only. He is currently amongst the hundreds of Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons. "Such sentences are oppressive against our children. We should not remain silent. Our children have a right to live freely and to have dignity like other children in the world", said Muawiya's father.

On 10 November 2015, Muawiya was arrested for allegedly stabbing a Yasam officer – the Israel Police Special Patrol Unit officers – along with his 12-year-old cousin Ali, in Pisgat Ze'ev, an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem. Dragged into a police van, he was stripped naked, threatened to be killed and had cold water poured on his body before being taken to Moscovia detention centre in West Jerusalem. He was subsequently transferred to Hasharon and finally to Megiddo prison, where he remains detained until today. Muawiya was detained incommunicado for a month, contacts with his lawyer and family being denied. His lawyer's visits were only allowed after a month and family's visits after seven months.

On 18 November 2015, the Israeli Central Criminal Court charged him with "attempted murder" and "possession of a knife". On 20 November 2015, Muawiya was transferred to Hasharon prison, where he remained detained for two months and half before being transferred to Megiddo prison, commonly used to detained minors.

After adjourning his trial more than 15 times, the Israeli Central Criminal Court issued, on 17 July 2016, a verdict sentencing Muawiya to six and a half years imprisonment and to pay a fine of 26,000 shekels (about 6,750$). Commenting on his sentence in the media, Muawiya's lawyer Lea Tsemel affirmed that "there is no doubt that this is a very stiff punishment for a juvenile under 15 years of age".

Concerned over the institutionalised Israeli policy targeting Palestinian children through imprisonment, Alkarama had sent on 30 June 2016, an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (SR OPT), asking him to call upon the Israeli authorities to ensure that Palestinian children are treated humanely and that their fair trial guarantees are fully respected. Muawiya's case is only one example of the many cases previously denounced by Alkarama such as the cases of Amer Bajawi, Mohammed Suleiman and Dima Al-Wawi.

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