The Judea and Samaria Police were ordered to pay 6,500 shekels ($1,869) to a 17-year-old settler who was kept in a lockup overnight and brought to court in handcuffs unnecessarily.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court criticized the police for letting the youth sleep in the police lock-up and noted that bringing the youth to court in handcuffs was unlawful.
The teenager was arrested in June 2016 at the Geulat Zion outpost, considered to be one of the most extreme in the West Bank, on grounds he had violated a military order closing off the area. Geulat Zion is not a permanent community, as the authorities periodically remove the small groups of settlers who set up camp on the hill. The outpost is now located near the site where the new settlement of Amihai is being built for the families evacuated from Amona last year.
Police planned to release the youth with restrictions the day after his arrest, and left him to sleep in the jail cell. Police also planned to ask the court to keep him away from Geulat Zion for 180 days. The following day, he was brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in handcuffs.
Court registrar Judge Ofir Yehezkel wrote in his ruling that the arrest itself was legal. “The dispute is over whether it was possible to release the plaintiff when his questioning was over at night, or whether the defendant acted properly by keeping him detained. Regarding this dispute, I accept the plaintiff’s position.”
The court explained, “Based on case law, it is not proper to delay the release of a detainee that the police believe should be released with conditions, simply because the conditions at issue are the type that must be determined by a judge. In such cases, imposing the restrictions that are within the authority of a police officer is sufficient and after the release, if needed, there can be a request to impose more stringent conditions that will be discussed before a judge.” With regard to the police intention to ask that the youth stay away from the area for half a year, the court said this wasn’t sufficient grounds for leaving him in the cell.
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The judge also expressed annoyance that the officer who made the decision to keep the youth overnight hadn’t even testified in court. “There was reason to expect him to appear to give testimony, to explain his considerations and be questioned about them,” the judge wrote.
The court was also critical of the decision to bring the youth to court in handcuffs. “People who constitute part of the general public circulate in the halls of the courthouse and are liable to see the prisoner while he is handcuffed,” Yehezkel wrote. “The courthouse is defined as a public place in various pieces of legislation. I believe that the court should also be seen as a public place for the purposes of the Youth Law and the Detention Law, and police procedures cannot contradict this.
“Moreover, the police’s own regulations state that in general one does not restrain minors while in detention unless they are acting wildly,” he added. As a result, the judge ordered police to pay the youth 6,500 shekels.
The youth’s attorney, Menashe Yado of the right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, said he hoped the ruling “will penetrate and lead to an internalization of norms of fair police conduct toward Jewish youths in Judea and Samaria.” There was no comment from the police.