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MCW Annual Report - August 2021

[1 September 2021] – MCW has released its Annual Report (2020/21) which considers recent developments relating to the arrest and detention of children by the Israeli military in the West Bank. In addition to reviewing relevant legal and procedural changes in the system, the report considers the findings from 102 testimonies obtained from children detained in 2020, and considers longer-term trends based on 897 testimonies. 

While noting a number of relevant changes to the system in recent years, the evidence suggests that this has not translated into a significant improvement in the treatment of children who come in contact with the system. The evidence also suggests that UNICEF's 2013 conclusion that "the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized" is still valid in 2021.
Some key points from the report include:
  • In 2020 there was a 17 percent decline in the monthly average number of children in detention;
  • The Israeli Prison Service has ceased providing monthly detention statistics opting for less detailed quarterly reporting;
  • Out of 13 issues tracked by MCW in its Comparative Graph, 12 issues (92 percent) recorded a deterioration in 2020. Issues recording a deterioration included: hand-ties, blindfolds, physical violence, threats, right to silence and access to lawyers;
  • There has been a significant surge in the number of children who report being held in solitary confinement as part of their interrogation process;
  • The pilot programme to issue summonses in lieu of night arrests is now largely abandoned. In August 2021, the military authorities stated that they have introduced new procedures, but these remain largely classified;
  • 65 percent of children continue to be forcibly transferred and/or unlawfully detained in prisons located outside the West Bank in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
  • Evidence of obstruction of justice at the International Criminal Court by some member states; and
  • Evidence that illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank play an integral role in child detention. 
The report also reviews progress made in implementing the 38 recommendations included in UNICEF's report - Children in Israeli Military Detention (2013) - and the 40 recommendations included in UK Foreign Office's funded legal report - Children in Military Custody (2012)