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Annual Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict

[21 June 2020] – On 15 June 2020, the UN released the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict. The report highlights global trends regarding the impact of armed conflict on children in 15 locations currently on the agenda of the Security Council, including Israel and Palestine. The report covers the period January to December 2019.

In relation to child detention, the report notes that the “United Nations received affidavits from 166 children who reported ill-treatment and breaches of due process by Israeli forces, including physical violence and one threat of sexual violence.” The Secretary-General also stated that: “I reiterate my call upon Israel to uphold international juvenile justice standards, as well as to cease the use of administrative detention for children and end all forms of ill-treatment in detention or any attempted recruitment of detained children as informants.”
This year’s report again omits to mention that most Palestinian child detainees are forcibly transferred and/or unlawfully detained in prisons located in Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and potentially the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It is unclear why this information was omitted as it is classified as a war crime under the Convention and the evidence of its occurrence comes from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS).
Although UNICEF recommends that “[I]n accordance with international law, all Palestinian children detained in the Israeli military detention system shall be held in facilities located in the occupied Palestinian territory”, all annual reports issued under the current Secretary-General have omitted reference to this violation.  According to the IPS, 76 percent of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention were forcibly transferred in April 2020.
In December 2019, the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes have been or are being committed” in Palestine, which include the forcible transfer and/or unlawful detention of children. The case has been referred to Pre-Trial Chamber I of the Court to determine if there is jurisdiction to proceed to a formal investigation.