News ID: 8615
Publish Date: 27 June 2012 - 18:02
A delegation of senior British lawyers on Tuesday released a report saying Israel's treatment of Palestinian children in custody breaks international law.

The independent study, backed by the UK government, documents testimony by the UN, Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian children that minors are subject to shackling, hooding and solitary confinement.

"To hold children routinely and for substantial periods in solitary confinement would, if it occurred, be capable of amounting to torture," the report says. Seizing children in night raids, physical and verbal abuse, and keeping them from their parents also breaks international prohibitions on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, it adds.

The report also notes that by applying separate legal regimes for Israeli and Palestinian children, Israel is in breach of international laws against discrimination.

Israeli children cannot be jailed under the age of 14, while Palestinian children as young as 12 have been held by Israel. Israeli children must be given access to a lawyer within 48 hours, whereas Palestinians can be held for three months without legal aid.

"Under international law, no state is entitled to discriminate between those over whom it exercises penal jurisdiction on the basis of their race or nationality. Unequal or differential justice is not justice," the report says.

Israel is also breaking international humanitarian law by transferring Palestinian children from an occupied territory into Israel, it notes.The report also welcomes recent legal improvements, which introduced juvenile courts into the military system that rules Palestinians, but notes "in spite of legal reform, practices are not changing."

The UK Foreign Office told British newspaper The Independent that the report was funded due to the government's long-standing concerns about Israel's treatment of Palestinian children in custody.

"We share many of the report's concerns, and will continue to lobby for further improvements," the newspaper quoted the department saying. The nine-member British delegation included a former Attorney General and Court of Appeal judge.Rights groups estimate around 700 Palestinian children are detained by Israel every year.


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