Court/Judicial body: Tel Aviv District Court, sitting as Juvenile Court
Date: 25 January 2007 CRC
Provisions: Article 37: Torture and deprivation of liberty
Domestic provisions: Law on Minors, Art. 22 (court’s authority to order an evaluation of a minor based on interviews) Law on Minors, Art. 24(1) of Law of Minors (not explained) Law on Minors, Art. 25(b) (no capital punishment for convicted minors; no obligation to sentence minors to life imprisonment or other minimum sentence) Law on Minors, Art. 25(c) (age as a mitigating factor in the sentencing of children)
Background: The defendant was charged with murder by strangulation, rape and sodomy of a fifteen-year-old girl five days before his 16th birthday. The case analyses, and applies to the defendant, the legal standards applicable in Israel for the sentencing of children to life imprisonment.
Issue and resolution: Life imprisonment of children. The Court sentenced the defendant to life imprisonment with the possibility of release for murder and fifteen years for rape and sodomy, with the sentences to run concurrently.
Court reasoning: The Court held that life imprisonment was appropriate and not in violation of the CRC because there was the possibility for release. With respect to the defendant, the Court determined that the sentence was appropriate because the crime was brutal and calculated, carried out against a victim whom the defendant did not previously know, The Court found that there were no significant mitigating factors: the defendant was intelligent, mature for his age, fully aware of what he was doing, not remorseful, did not admit to the crime, and had not been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Court did not make any recommendations regarding therapy our other special treatment in its evaluation.
Excerpt citing CRC and other relevant human rights as in full-text Hebrew decision: בע״פ דלעיל אף נקבע כי הטלת עונש מאסר עולם על קטין אינה עומדת בסתירה או בחשש סתירה לסעיף 37(א) לאמנה הבינלאומית בדבר זכויות הילד (1989) הקובע כי ״לא יוטל עונש מוות, אף לא מאסר עולם בלא אפשרות שחרור, עבור עבירות שנעברו על ידי אנשים שטרם מלאו להם שמונה-עשרה שנים״, שכן על פי הדין החל בישראל גם לאסיר עולם עומדת ״אפשרות שחרור״. [page 7, citing CRC 37(a)]
CRIN English translation: In the above appeal it was also determined that the imposition of a life sentence upon a minor does not conflict or risk conflict with Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) which states that “No death penalty shall be imposed, nor life imprisonment imposed without the possibility of release, for offenses committed by persons who have not reached the age of eighteen,” as according to the law in effect in Israel, even someone imprisoned for life has the “possibility of release.”
Follow up: The Israeli Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court on appeal on 5 August 2010. The appeal questioned whether the Court considered the full or partial intoxication of the defendant. The Supreme Court ruled that the Court had fully considered the issue and that the sentence was appropriate under the Law on Minors.
CRIN comments: CRIN believes that this decision is inconsistent with the CRC. Sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of release are explicitly prohibited under Article 37 of the Convention, but the Convention also requires that children be deprived of their liberty only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. The Committee on the Rights of the Child’s stated in General Comment No. 10 that “[g]iven the likelihood that a life imprisonment of a child will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the aims of juvenile justices despite the possibility of release, the Committee Strongly recommends that State parties abolish all forms of life imprisonment for offences committed by persons under the age of 18.”
Citation: State of Israel v. Anonymous, Case No. 204/05, Tel Aviv District Court, sitting as Juvenile Court (2007) Appellate decision: Anonymous v. State of Israel, Appeal 900/07, Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as Court of Criminal Appeals Link to Full Judgment: Available on request.