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Home » Public statements »

UNICEF data indicates deteriorating situation for child detainees
 
[18 November 2013] – In March 2013, UNICEF published the report – Children in Israeli Military Detention. The two main findings of the report were:  
  1. In no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights; and

  2. 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. 
In response to these findings, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel stated it would study the conclusions and work to implement the 38 recommendations through on-going cooperation with UNICEF.
 
Since the publication of the report in March, UNICEF has continued to monitor the treatment of children through the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Grave Child Rights Violations. Pursuant to this mechanism, UNICEF has collected 19 affidavits from children detained between April and June 2013. Following an analysis of these affidavits, UNICEF has published the following findings (Bulletin No. 1): 

#
Description
Number
%
1
Number of boys reporting being painfully hand-tied
19
100%
2
Number of boys reporting physical violence
19
100%
3
Number of boys reporting verbal abuse
17
89%
4
Number of boys blindfolded
16
84%
5
Number of boys reporting being strip-searched
13
68%
6
Number of boys accompanied by parents during interrogation
0
0%
7
Number of boys informed of their right to legal counsel
0
0%
 

Although based on a relatively small sample, the data released by UNICEF indicates a measurable deterioration in the treatment of children held in Israeli military detention in the three months following the release of the report.
 
Whilst every effort should be made to ensure the implementation of all 38 recommendations, including the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, six core recommendations would have an immediate transformative effect and should be implemented as a matter of urgency:
  1. Children should only be arrested during daylight hours except in rare and exceptional circumstances.
     
  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. This statement must be provided at the time of arrest, or as soon as is feasibly possible, but prior to questioning.
     
  3. All children must be given the opportunity to 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.
     
  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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