DCI-Palestine and American Friends Service Committee delivered a petition on 2 February to the US State Department signed by over 11,000 individuals standing against ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.
The petition, part of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, urges the Secretary of State to prioritize the human rights of Palestinian children and to hold Israeli authorities accountable for widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees.
The US-based No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge 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 project of Defence for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes around 700 children in military courts each year. Three out of every four of these children endure some form of physical violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers or officers following arrest. In 97 percent of the cases, children are interrogated without legal counsel and without their parents.
Amid heightened violence in the fall of 2015, the number of Palestinian children detained in the Israeli prison system skyrocketed. At the end of February 2016, 440 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system, the highest known total since January 2008 when the Israel Prison Service (IPS) began sharing data. Among them were 104 children between the ages of 12 and 15. The IPS stopped consistently releasing data since May 2016.
DCI-Palestine collected affidavits from 158 West Bank children detained and prosecuted under the jurisdiction of Israeli military courts in 2016. The data shows that 62 percent of children endured some form of physical violence following arrest and 52 percent were verbally abused, intimidated, or threatened.
Of the 158 children, 25 were held in solitary confinement for an average period of 16 days for interrogation purposes, an alarming increase over the previous year. The longest period of isolation for a child that DCI-Palestine documented in 2016 was 29 days.
In October 2015, Israel renewed the practice of administrative detention against Palestinian children in the West Bank for the first time in four years. Administrative detention is the imprisonment of individuals by the state for prolonged periods without charge or trial and based on secret evidence.
DCI-Palestine has documented the use of administrative detention against 14 children in 2016. Two Palestinian children remain in administrative detention. Five Palestinian children were placed in administrative detention following accusations of inciting or threatening to commit violence in Facebook posts.
International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort and must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign is committed to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and envisions a world where all children attain rights in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards.
Visit www.nowaytotreatachild.org to learn more.