[27 June 2012] – On 26 June a new report on children held in Israeli military detention was published in London. The report - Children in military custody – was produced by a delegation of UK lawyers following their visit to the region. The delegation of nine lawyers, including Sir Stephen Sedley (formerly Lord Justice Sedley) and Baroness Scotland QC (former Shadow Attorney General and Attorney General of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) travelled to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in September 2011 to assess the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law.
According to the delegation's website, the “objective of the group was to produce an independent report founded on the principles of the rule of law and children’s rights. A substantial and balanced body of relevant information was collated. The delegation met with a number of key parties, including Israeli Government departments and the military, Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, UN agencies, former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian children. They also visited the military courts at Ofer prison outside Jerusalem and observed proceedings involving children.”
The delegation’s terms of reference were “to undertake an evaluative analysis of Israeli military law and practice as they affect Palestinian children in the West Bank by reference to the standards of international law and international children’s rights. The terms of reference did not include the legality of the occupation. Nor did the terms of reference include the impact of the occupation on the welfare and rights of children outside the legal process.” The question which concerned the delegation was “whether there is any justification for treating Israeli and Palestinian children differently in law or in practice”.
The key findings of the report, based solely on legal differentials, include the following:
The report concludes by making 40 specific recommendations, including:
It is relevant to note in regards to breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, that the UK Government has specific legal duties and obligations under article 1 of the Convention “to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.”
The full report is available on line.
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