Fields of Intervention:
DCI-Palestine was created in Palestine in order to promote and defend children’s rights. Therefore, several actions are undertaken in the following priority issues:
- Juvenile Justice
- Violence against children
- Child protection
Current Activities and Projects/Programmes:
In recent years, DCI-Palestine has carried out inter alia the following projects:
- The Protection of Children from School Violence Campaign
- 28 UNRWA supervisors and counselors participated in the three-day workshop that was organised to train them on advocacy tools and provide them with the necessary child protection information. The participants later conducted 25 workshops with other counselors, parent-teacher associations, and the UNRWA parliament of schoolchildren on the importance of children’s role in processes of advocacy and change. The workshops stressed children’s participation in school, through wall paintings and morning speeches to deliver messages that combat school violence and promote peaceful educational alternatives.
- Five performances of “Throw the Stick”, a play on school violence that was developed by DCI-Palestine and Al Hara Theatre, were organised and attended by teachers, parent-teacher associations, children, and community groups. In addition, seven open days about the protection of children from school violence were organised in schools. Around 1,300 participants were involved in the performances and the open days, and 160 copies of the documentary “Break the Stick”, a DCI-Palestine production on school violence examined from different angles with the active participation of children, were distributed.
- An open day about the protection of children from school violence was conducted in collaboration with the Jerusalem directorate of education and UNRWA.
- The Protection of Children from Economic Exploitation Campaign
The campaign was launched to empower children and provide them with information and skills to address child labour through two training courses about the protection of child workers from economic exploitation. The first training targeted 33 media professionals and the second training targeted 28 children. An action plan was developed and the participants took part in the subsequent activities of the campaign against child labour, producing two documentaries about child labour; hosting eight TV and radio meeting with different stakeholders; writing 12 articles in newspapers and magazines; and creating a strong debate on Facebook with children’s participation.
- Child Justice Unit Activities
- The Child Justice Unit organised 53 periodic inspection visits to ensure that detention centers adhere to international standards in terms of appropriate spatial conditions, human dignity, and the fundamental rights of children. The staff met with 118 children, 30 directors, officers, and staff of those centers.
- 8 workshops were held in juvenile detention centers and juvenile cells of prisons with 46 children and policemen, with the goal to bridge the gap between children in conflict with the law and the police.
- The Child Justice Unit also provides legal advice and consultation to child victims of community violence and neglect and child workers; it also follows up on these cases with stakeholders to provide children with protection, education, health, and other services through meetings, case conferences, communication, and other activities. In 2013, the unit followed up on 55 cases of child victims of community violence.
- “Know your rights” Campaign for Children on Detainee Rights
DCI-Palestine launched the campaign for Palestinian children to empower and educate them on how to secure their basic rights while being detained in the Israeli military detention system. The goal is to distribute more than 5,000 information cards to children aged between 12 and 17 living in West Bank communities where children appear to be targeted by Israeli forces for arrest. So far, DCI-Palestine has conducted 20 sessions and 604 school children were targeted. DCI-Palestine also conducted training sessions for Palestinian children in schools to raise awareness on what to expect during the arrest and detention process. The trainings focused on understanding relevant international human rights law concerning arrest, transfer, and interrogation practices. Additionally, Israeli military law and how these rights are systematically denied to Palestinian child detainees were discussed.
- Setting up Community Monitoring Mechanisms to Prevent Abuse
- Direct Socio-Legal assistance:
Providing consultations, legal representation, court sessions attendance, and release requests.
A 15-year-old child was arrested at around 3am and interrogated half an hour later at the Ma’ale Adumim police station. He was accused of throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at the Israeli army; this accusation was based on his confessions and those of another child, aged 13, who was interrogated under the same circumstances. DCI-Palestine cross-examined the witnesses – including the interrogator, who was asked to explain why the two children were interrogated at such a late hour – but he failed to give any legal justification. The court dismissed the child’s confessions and downgraded those of the other child. Then a plea bargain was established with the military prosecutor, concluding the case with four months of actual imprisonment instead of the 24 months that were initially requested.
The report is the culmination of four year’s work by DCI, with the support of the European Union, focusing on verifying reports of ill-treatment and torture of children in the Israeli military detention system. The findings of the report are based on 311 sworn affidavits taken from children between January 2008 and January 2012. The report also includes:
- An interview with a lawyer who represents children in the military courts
- An interview with the director of the YMCA rehabilitation programme
- An interview with an Israeli soldier, courtesy of Breaking the Silence
- A Psychological opinion into the effects of military detention on children
- 25 case studies taken from child-detainees
- Recruitment and Use of Palestinian Children in Armed Conflict, 2012
The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is prohibited under international law, and can take many forms, ranging from direct involvement in fighting, to subsidiary roles, such as acting as informants. The prohibition also includes using children as human shields. The report finds that in the context of the military occupation of the Palestinian Territory, both Israel and Palestinian armed groups have violated the prohibition.
The report covers an eight year period between 2004 and 2011 (the reporting period), and identifies three circumstances where children are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by both parties to the conflict: