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UK lawyers' report: one year on


[26 June 2013] - One year ago today, a delegation of senior lawyers from the UK published a report reviewing the law and practice applicable to children prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The Foreign Office funded report – Children in Military Custody – found undisputed evidence that the system violated at least six articles under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and two articles under the Fourth Geneva Convention. At the time of publication it was widely reported that the Foreign Office would be “challenging the Israelis over their treatment of Palestinian children”. The delegation, led by Sir Stephen Sedley, a former Court of Appeal judge, made 40 recommendations including:

  1. Children should not be arrested at night;
  2. Children should never be blindfolded or hooded;
  3. Children must be allowed to meet with a lawyer prior to interrogation;
  4. Children should have a parent or guardian present throughout the interrogation;
  5. All interrogations should be audio-visually recorded; and
  6. No child should be transferred out of the West Bank in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Twelve months on, only one out of the 40 recommendations has been partially complied with. On 1 April 2013, a new military order (MO 1711) came into effect requiring that children aged 12 and 13 years be brought before a military judge within 24 hours of arrest. However, the same order only requires that older children be brought before a judge within 48 hours, one day more than the internationally recognised standard and the standard applied to Israeli children.
Significantly, Israeli authorities continue to apply different legal standards to children in the West Bank based on race or nationality - a situation expressly prohibited under international law. Meanwhile, the monthly average number of children held in military detention has risen by 17.3 percent compared with 2012. 
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