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Resource: UNICEF report on Palestinian children in Israeli military detention

Following an increasing number of allegations of ill-treatment of children in Israeli military detention, UNICEF conducted a review of practices related to children who come into contact with the military detention system, from apprehension, to court proceedings and outcome. The report gives 38 recommendations for improving the protection of children.

It is understood that in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights. All children prosecuted for offenses they allegedly committed should be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, which provide them with special protection.

The report has been assigned extra weight in the Israeli media because UNICEF is not one of the UN bodies regularly dismissed as having an anti-Israel bias.

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    1. “Each year approximately 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, the great majority of them boys, are arrested, interrogated and detained by Israeli army, police and security agents. In the past 10 years, an estimated 7,000 children have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted and/or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system – an average of two children each day. The analysis of the cases monitored by UNICEF identified examples of practices that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture. What amounts to ill–treatment depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. However, the common experience of many children is being aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation centre tied and blindfolded, sleep deprived and in a state of extreme fear. Few children are informed of their right to legal counsel.”

      I’ve just finished reading the report in full. It’s nothing we don’t already know (Defence for Children International have been documenting this stuff for decades) but it offers a good clear introduction to martial law and how it works in relation to children for people who are interested in finding out. I hope it gets read widely.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Vadim

      Vicky, I have a question for you.

      How many of these children have been involved in stone throwing? Regardless of whether I think stone throwing justifies this treatment, there’s a vast difference between innocent children being systematically mistreated and harsh measures being taken against stone throwers. If all it takes for this to stop is to stop throwing stones – why not stop throwing stones? On the other hand, if this is a form of systematic punishment – this is of course wrong, should be stopped and the responsible prosecuted.

      Reply to Comment
      • directrob

        It makes absolutely no difference what these children have done.

        The report is talking about the convention against torture and convention on the rights of the child. We are talking peremptory norms. These, with a reason, are binding for all.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          Of course it makes a difference.

          I’m not sure those who wrote about the “rights of the child” had in mind a 17 years old throwing boulders at soldiers or cars (with Jews in them).

          You can’t take away the context and present it as if naughty children stealing candy from a shop get kidnapped and beaten by soldiers.

          What about these children’s parents? Their teachers? Their political leaders? HAMAS? Why isn’t there a cry – stay at home! Don’t confront soldiers!

          Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            Nonense …

            Torture of children is forbidden and the rights of arrested children should be respected. That does not mean killers have to walk free, just that you have to respect their rights. In practice of course quite a few child arrest are just random (see confessions at the bt’selem site) or worse and have nothing to do with justice.

            A classic example:
            http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2010/02/15/a-palestinian-arrest-so-ridiculous-even-the-israeli-judges-smiled/

            Reply to Comment
          • steven katsineris

            Hey Vadim, treat children with respect and according to human rights laws in relation to children. Regarding allegations of stone throwing or other resistance, stop the brutal occupation of West bank, seizing land, homes and destroying trees and crops and people, including children won’t feel like throwing rocks.

            Reply to Comment