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Child detention raised in Dutch Parliament

[19 February 2014] – On 12 February, the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Dutch Parliament held a wide ranging debate on relations with Israel and Palestine. During the debate the issue of the treatment of Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention was raised by Joel Voordewind (Christian Union), Pieter Omtzigt (CDA), Sjoerd Sjoerdsma (D66) and Michiel Servaes (PVDA) with a particular focus on treatment during the first 24 hours following arrest. Members of the Committee also queried how many of the 38 recommendations contained in the UNICEF report – Children in Israeli Military Detention – have been implemented since its publication in March 2013. The report’s main conclusion was that the ill-treatment of children in the system appears to be “widespread, systematic and institutionalized”.

In his response, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans informed the Committee that he had raised concerns about the treatment of children in military detention with Israel’s Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni who is aware of the problems. Timmermans noted that there are now specific laws relating to children below the age of 18 and the eight-day period during which a child must be brought before a military court judge for the first time has been reduced. However, night raids, the lack of adequate access to lawyers, documentation written in Hebrew and “tough” interrogations remain a problem. The Foreign Minister informed the Committee that he will continue to raise these issues at the highest level.
The Foreign Minister also raised the issue of incitement to violence acknowledging that it exists on both sides but that there is no institutional policy to glorify terrorism. He noted that the Palestinian Authority had agreed to be part of a tripartite committee with the U.S. and Israel to redress the issue. However, on 4 February 2014, it was reported that the Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, rejected the U.S. and Palestinian offer to establish a committee to deal with this issue.
MCW continues to call for the implementation of six-core recommendations that would provide additional protection to children during the first 24 hours following arrest:
  1. Children should only be arrested during daylight hours except in rare and exceptional circumstances. In all other cases summonses should be used; 
  2. All children, and their legal guardian, should be provided with a written statement in Arabic informing them of their full legal rights in custody; 
  3. All children must consult with a lawyer of their choice prior to questioning; 
  4. All children must be accompanied by a family member throughout their questioning; 
  5. Every interrogation must be audio-visually recorded and a copy of the tape must be provided to the defence prior to the first hearing; and 
  6. Breach of any of the above recommendations should result in the discontinuation of the prosecution and the child’s immediate release.
The issue of child detention was also raised by the Netherlands at the UN in November 2013 with a specific call for an end to the differential treatment of children in the West Bank under the military and civilian legal systems applied to Palestinian and Israeli settler children respectively.