The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge and end Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. It is a joint project of Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.

Palestinian children have the right to a safe and just future. No Way to Treat a Child Canada believes the Canadian government must use all available means to pressure relevant Israeli authorities to end the detention and abuse of Palestinian children.

You can support the campaign by signing the petition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland or by joining the campaign.

Background

Palestinian children in the West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights.

Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system whereas Palestinians live under military law.

Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year. Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations.

Defense for Children International – Palestine collected affidavits from 429 West Bank children detained between 2012 and 2015 that show three-quarters of them endured some form of physical violence following arrest. In 97 percent of the cases, children had no parent present during the interrogation or access to legal counsel. Israeli police also did not properly inform them of their rights in 84 percent of the cases.

Recent amendments to Israeli military law concerning children have had little to no impact on their treatment during the first 24 to 48 hours after an arrest, when most of the ill-treatment occurs at the hands of Israeli soldiers, police, and the security service.

Recommendations

In no circumstance should children be detained or prosecuted under the jurisdiction of military courts. However, as a minimum safeguard while Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation continue to be arrested and prosecuted within the Israeli military court system, Israeli authorities must respect and ensure basic due process rights and the absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment. From the moment of arrest, operations and procedures must be carried out in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, specifically the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including:

  • Detention must only be used as a last resort, and only for the shortest appropriate time;
  • Children must not be subjected to physical or psychological violence;
  • Children must have access to legal consultation and parents prior to and during interrogations;
  • Children must only be arrested during daylight hours;
  • Children must be properly informed of their right to silence;
  • Children must not be blindfolded or painfully restrained;
  • Children must not be subjected to coercive force or threats;
  • All interrogations must be audio-visually recorded;
  • Any incriminating evidence obtained during interrogation where a child was not properly and effectively informed of his or her right to silence must be excluded by the military courts;
  • Any statement made as a result of torture or ill-treatment must be excluded as evidence in any proceeding;
  • The practice of using solitary confinement on children in Israeli military detention, whether in pretrial detention for interrogation purposes or as a form of punishment, must be stopped immediately and the prohibition must be enshrined in law;
  • The practice of using administrative detention orders against Palestinian children must stop immediately and the prohibition must be enshrined in law;
  • All credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be thoroughly and impartially investigated in accordance with international standards, and perpetrators brought promptly to justice; and
  • Children must not be transferred out of the West Bank in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Learn more in the campaign’s resources section and read updates about the campaign.

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