The Israeli military has implemented positive developments in its juvenile court system in recent years, and yet, regular allegations of serious abuses persist. A look at what has been done and what still needs to take place.
By Gerard Horton
Since the establishment of Israel’s military juvenile court in September 2009, there have been some noteworthy developments in the way children as young as 12 are treated in Israel’s military legal system. The establishment of the court has led to several changes, including: a reduction in the time in which children must be brought before a military court judge for the first time; a reduction in the time a child can be detained before being charged; a reduction in the time a child can be detained before trial; there have been no children held in administrative detention since December 2011; children are generally being separated from adults in detention; there has been a monthly decline in the number of children detained this year; and for the past two months, there has been no record of any child under 14 being detained in Israeli prisons.
So why do serious allegations of abuse persist?
In March of this year, UNICEF published a report, based on a review of over 400 affidavits, Children in Israeli Military Detention in which it concluded that the “ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process.” UNICEF followed up their report in October with a bulletin reviewing subsequent developments.
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When it came to the question of ill-treatment, the evidence collected by UNICEF indicated, amongst other things, that 100 percent of children continue to report having their hands painfully during detention, while a similar percentage reported that they are subjected to physical violence, including beatings to the head and face. These new findings were based on 19 affidavits collected by UNICEF though the its Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Grave Child Rights Violations.
On December 3, 2013, Military Court Watch (MCW) released a new report...Read More