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Dutch Foreign Minister makes statement to parliament on child detention

[8 June 2015] - On 20 May 2015, the parliament of the Netherlands held a debate on “the situation in Israel and Gaza.” One of the topics discussed was the situation facing Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention.

The Netherlands is organising a Cooperation Forum at the end of this year during which the economic cooperation between Israel and the Netherlands will be discussed. Van Bommel MP (Socialist Party) tabled a motion calling on the Dutch government “to attach consequences to the way in which bilateral relations with Israel are conducted if the country continues to act in contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
The motion was not passed when put to a vote on 26 May 2015.
In rejecting the motion, Foreign Minister Koenders made the following statement to parliament:
“I then arrive at the motion part no. 404 of Mr Van Bommel on the Rights of the Child. In this, and noting that Israel has for years been in breach of the Convention concerning Palestinian children in Israeli custody, the Dutch government is requested to draw conclusions on the way in which bilateral relations are conducted with Israel if the country continues to act in breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is an important point in itself, but specifically in this issue the Dutch government has demonstrated to act as “chef de ville” in Israel, meaning the Netherlands advances exactly this topic and acts both as precursor and chair as well.
The situation of Palestinian child prisoners is very worrisome. The impact on the Palestinian community is high, to some extent because of the nightly arrests. On some points we are making progress, and I also want to continue with that. There are for example some reforms that have our distinct attention. I also refer to the letter to the parliament from January last on this subject. The Dutch Human Rights ambassador has also visited Israel regarding this theme. We are actually indeed performing in the direction where Mr. Van Bommel is referring to in the various points of this motion. In February 2014 a number of changes have occurred. They need to be strengthened, for example regarding the nightly arrests and subpoenas, and its reduction.
UNICEF published a second progress report in February 2015. We work in cooperation with UNICEF to improve the situation. The report of UNICEF highlights two reforms: an exercise in relation to the number of arrests in the West Bank and the entering into force in September 2014 of Military Order 1745, which entails that interrogations are subject to restrictions. The report also refers to the findings of the Human Rights Council in November 2014, which concerns the non-practice of military decrees and the raise of the number of arrests of Palestinian minors who are often firmly put in detention without full procedural rights. The Netherlands is, in comparison to other countries, in the forefront. I agree that it is a small number of reforms, but it is important to persevere. I am also very willing to report to the House about this, for this is obviously not acceptable.”