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UK lawyers' report - 18 months on
 
[3 December 2013] – On 26 June 2012, a delegation of UK lawyers published the report – Children in Military Custody. The Foreign Office funded report reviewed how children are treated in Israel’s military court system taking into account both the legal framework and practice. The report found breaches of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Fourth Geneva Convention and concluded by making 40 specific recommendations.
 
Eighteen months on, MCW has published a report (MCW progress report – 18 months on) in which the 40 recommendations made by the UK lawyers are reviewed and individually assessed as to whether they have been substantially or partially implemented, or not implemented at all. The findings of the review are presented below.

#
Compliance
Number
Percentage
1
Substantially implemented
2
5%
2
Partially implemented
3
7.5%
3
Not implemented
35
87.5%
 

During the past 18 months there have been a number of positive developments in the military court system, such as: a reduction in the time in which children must be brought before a military court judge for the first time; a reduction in the time a child can be detained before being charged; no children held in administrative detention; children generally being separated from adults in detention; a monthly decline in the number of children detained this year; and for the past two months, no record of any child under 14 being detained in Israeli prisons.
 
However, the ultimate litmus test of the system is how children are treated. Based on affidavit evidence collected by both MCW and UNICEF, little appears to have changed since UNICEF concluded in March 2013 that: “The ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing.”
 
MCW submits that it is unrealistic to expect any substantive improvement in the system until adequate protection is provided during the first 24 hours following arrest. There are six core recommendations that, if effectively implemented, would provide the necessary protection:
  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.
 
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