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The Netherlands: further correspondence regarding the forcible transfer of children

[22 January 2019] - On 7 December 2015, Military Court Watch (MCW) wrote to the Embassy of the Netherlands in Tel Aviv concerning the legal obligations imposed on the Netherlands under the Fourth Geneva Convention (the Convention) in relation to Israel’s decades long policy of transferring Palestinian child detainees from the West Bank to prisons in Israel.  

Under Article 76 of the Convention it is a war crime to transfer and/or detain protected persons outside occupied territory. Article 146 of the Convention imposes legal obligations on third party states to the Convention, such as the Netherlands, in relation to war crimes, including unlawful transfer and detention, wherever they occur. The Netherlands ratified the Convention in 1954.
On 6 August 2018, the Embassy of the Netherlands responded to MCW’s correspondence, stating, inter alia, that the Netherlands has raised its concerns about the treatment of Palestinian minors with the Israeli authorities. However, the  Embassy did not address the issue raised in MCW’s correspondence relating to  what steps the Netherlands is taking, or intends to take, in order to discharge its legal obligations under the Convention, choosing instead only to focus on Israel’s legal obligations.
On 15 October 2018, MCW sent a follow-up letter to the Embassy of the Netherlands again asking what specific steps will the government of the Netherlands be taking in accordance with its third-party state obligations under the Convention, as opposed to the obligations imposed on Israel.
On 18 December 2018, the Embassy of the Netherlands responded to MCW’s correspondence stating, inter alia, that “the Netherlands shares your concerns regarding the treatment of Palestinian minors” and “expects Israel to respect and strictly comply with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention”. As with previous correspondence, the Embassy did not to address what steps the government of the Netherlands intends to take in order to discharge its own legal obligations, instead limiting its response to Israel’s obligations.