A parliamentary debate has been secured for the 6 January 2016 by Sarah Champion MP (Labour Shadow Minister for Preventing Abuse and Domestic Violence) on the major and long-standing human rights problem of Israel’s detention of Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territory.
LPHR welcomes this opportunity for parliamentary attention to be focused on the widespread and systematic violations of international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, experienced by Palestinian children who come into contact with Israel’s military detention system.
We request our members and followers to write to their MPs asking them to participate in this debate, particuarly in light of the dramatic increase in arrests reflected in the latest statistics obtained from the Israeli Prison Service. As of the 31 October 2015, there were 307 children in Israeli military custody, the highest recorded monthly figure for over five years. 78 of these chidlren were between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.
Israel is the only nation to automatically and systematically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental due process guarantees. Around 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system each year. The majority of Palestinian child detainees are charged with throwing stones, and 62 percent experience physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation, according to evidence collected by Military Court Watch. No Israeli children come into contact with the military detention system.
It is almost two years since LPHR launched our ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign in partnership with Defence for Children International Palestine to distribute information cards and conduct training sessions on detainee rights to thousands of children aged between 12 and 17 in West Bank communities. The ‘Know Your Rights’ information card and accompanying tutorial sessions focused on educating and empowering Palestinian children to secure their basic rights while detained in Israel’s military detention system.
In March 2013, UNICEF published a comprehensive report entitled ‘Children in Israeli Military Detention: Observations and Recommendations’. This significant report 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.” When UNICEF released its second update in February this year – which noted that allegations of ill-treatment of children “have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014” – LPHR published blog articles highlighting failures in the implementation of the report’s recommendations and emphasising the ongoing necessity of LPHR’s ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign.
What is clear from the UNICEF update and recent statistics is that there has been very little effective progress in mending the glaring gaps in basic human rights protections for Palestinian children within Israel’s military detention system. We invite you to take this opportunity to promote respect for the fundamental human rights of Palestinian children by writing to your MP underlining your concern about the systemic ill-treatment of children in Israeli military custody, and request their participation in the parliamentary debate on 6 January 2016.