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UN Committee deeply concerned by the treatment of children held in Israeli military detention

[20 June 2013] – Following a review of Israel’s combined second, third and fourth periodic reports under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Committee on the Rights of the Child (“The Committee”) has published its Concluding Observations with recommendations. The Committee again confirmed the application of the CRC to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (“occupied Palestine”) and was critical of the Israeli government’s “persistent refusal to provide information and data” on Palestinian children living in these locations.
Having extensively reviewed the treatment of Palestinian children detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system,  the Committee expressed the following concerns:
  1. There exists two separate legal systems in the West Bank – a civilian legal system for Israeli settler children and a military legal system for Palestinian children - this leads to inequality between Israeli and Palestinian children in the enjoyment of their rights;
  2. Palestinian children continue to be detained in the middle of the night;
  3. Palestinian children continue to be hand-tied and blindfolded and taken to unknown destinations;
  4. Palestinian children continue to be systematically subjected to physical and verbal violence, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, threatened with death, physical violence, and sexual assault against themselves or members of their family,  and given restricted access to toilet, food and water;
  5. Palestinian children continue to be denied access to a lawyer and parents during the initial stages of their detention;
  6. Palestinian children continue to be coerced into confessing, and in some cases, the confessions are written in Hebrew;
  7. Palestinian children continue to be held in solitary confinement;
  8. The Israeli Military Orders applied to Palestinian children have not been translated into Arabic, as is required under the Fourth Geneva Convention;
  9. The same sentencing provisions that apply to adults are applied to Palestinian children aged 16 and 17 years;
  10. Palestinian children from the West Bank continue to be transferred and detained in prisons inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The Committee also noted that “the continued expansion of unlawful settlements and construction of the Wall into the West Bank as well as land confiscation, destruction of houses and livelihood of Palestinians constitute severe and continuous violations of the rights of Palestinian children and their families, feed the cycle of humiliation and violence and jeopardize a peaceful and stable future for all children of the region.”
The Committee made a number of recommendations including the following:
  • All children living in occupied Palestine must enjoy the same rights under the CRC without discrimination; 
  • The Israeli government must live up to its unavoidable responsibility to prevent torture and ill-treatment of children living in occupied Palestine; 
  • The Israeli government must ensure that at all levels of the chain of command, including those who have been ordering, condoning or facilitating the torture and/or ill treatment of children be brought to justice and be punished with penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes; 
  • All children must have prompt access to a lawyer and parents following arrest; 
  • All children must be brought before a judge within 24 hours following arrest; and 
  • Confessions written in Hebrew must not be used as evidence by the military courts.
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