Your signatory details are being collected by the London Palestine Solidarity Campaign Branches Child Prisoners Action Group who will submit the letter to London political representatives on your behalf and keep you informed of progress.
Here is the text of the letter to which we hope you will agree to become a signatory by completing the details requested in the section of this form below the letter :
To:[MP or MEP or London Assembly Member]
Dear [ ]
We are writing to you as your constituents to ask for your support to end to the well-documented systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners in the Israeli military detention system.
At present, under Israeli military detention Palestinian children as young as 12 are routinely:• Taken from their homes in night time raids by soldiers at gunpoint.• Blindfolded, bound and shackled.• Interrogated without a lawyer or relative being present and with no audio-visual recording.• Put into solitary confinement.• Forced to sign confessions (often in Hebrew -a language they do not understand) or face punitive periods in prison awaiting trial.
Israel is the only country in the world that routinely prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees. This past year has seen new milestones reached in the mistreatment of Palestinian children, with the year to date seeing the highest levels of incarcerations of children between 12 and 15 years old on record. By April 2016 over 440 Palestinian minors were detained and imprisoned by the Israeli military. Over 700 a year on average are detained, accounting for over 20% of all Palestinian prisoners. It is clear this is not an isolated practice, and the arrest and imprisonment of young children has become worryingly routine.
The experiences of these children are heart-breaking, the widespread use of tactics including beatings, blindfolding, handcuffing, threats, intimidation, and solitary confinement have a lasting physical and psychological impact on such young children. The fear and terror that they feel alone and far away from their families, and without access to a lawyer, lead many to confess to crimes they did not commit in the hope that it will end the nightmare of military interrogation. I urge you to please read the briefing pack which is attached to this letter and, in particular, the section on the experiences of children in detention and appendix A, showing just how widespread such abuses are.
There can be no excuse for the injustices that Palestinian children suffer at the hands of the Israeli authorities. The targeting of young children has no place in any legal system and can only act as an obstacle to a genuine and just peace.
As the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded delegation of lawyers who reported in 2102 summarised, “A major cause of future unrest may well be the resentment of continuing injustice. We hope that the Israeli Government will recognise this, and will recognise too that justice is not a negotiable commodity but a fundamental human right which can itself do much to defuse anger.” They concluded, “Such a stance seems to us to be the starting point of a spiral of injustice, and one which only Israel, as the Occupying Power in the West Bank, can reverse.” [Report: Children in Military Custody June 2012. UK FCO Funded Delegation]
In 2013, UNICEF (the United Nations Children Fund) published a detailed report on Palestinian children in military detention with a series of 38 requirements and recommendations that Israel needed to meet in order to fulfill its requirements towards children under international humanitarian law. Since then Israel has continued to significantly fail to implement those basic requirements. [Report: Children In Military Detention UNICEF 2013]
If any further evidence were needed about the treatment of Palestinian child prisoners, there is a very relevant report which was published in 2014 in the UK’s Jewish Chronicle :The author who is a partner in the London firm of Gallant Maxwell solicitors was part of a delegation of senior lawyers and writes that ‘The participants were all passionate Zionists and, we were all senior lawyers or individuals with a particular interest in the rule of law.’The lawyers visited the IDF military courts that maintain law and order (for Palestinians only) in the West Bank. In the course of the tour they met a very broad spectrum of people including representatives of Israeli NGOs, and a senior adviser to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.The author writes that ‘It is clear that children are invariably arrested in night raids by the army at gunpoint, cuffed and blindfolded and held, often for hours, in that condition, denied access to food, water and toilet facilities, interrogated without being advised of their rights, without a lawyer and without their parents’ The author observes that Military Court Watch, an independent NGO, has carried out a detailed forensic review and they found over 50 per cent of children were arrested in night raids and 83 per cent of children blindfolded; and all of the children they saw in court were in leg shackles.The author states that he felt that ‘the court system was clearly a fig leaf for a system of arbitrary justice where the guilt of the child is beside the point.’ He goes on to say that ‘Scrape away the veneer, and the charade is exposed with convictions routinely obtained based upon forced confessions and defendants facing remand without bail pending trial for periods in excess of sentences when pleading guilty. No sane defendant would plead not guilty in this Catch 22 situation.’The author also concluded that ‘those who consider that stories of systemic breaches of human rights under the occupation are an anti-Israel myth are deluding themselves.’[Article: http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/114819/take-a-lawyers-advice-visit-occupied-territories]
I am writing to you to ask you to please apply pressure on the British government to take action requiring Israel to live up to its international humanitarian law obligations in relation to children. To this end please would you consider confirming your support for the following statement:
Statement in Support of The Rights of Palestinian Child Prisoners
We the undersigned, support an end to the mistreatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention and for the rights of Palestinian children to be upheld in accordance with international law.
We call upon the British government to make a public statement that it will take immediate, effective and meaningful action-including through international bodies-to ensure all the following requirements are implemented by the Israeli government without delay:
1. Children must not be prosecuted in military courts that lack basic and fundamental due process guarantees;2. Detention must only be used as a measure of last resort;3. Children must not be arrested at night;4. Children must not be subjected to any form of physical violence;5. Children must have access to legal representation and parents prior to and during interrogations;6. All interrogations of children must be audio-visually recorded;7. Any statement made as a result of torture or ill-treatment must be excluded as evidence in any proceeding; and8. All credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be thoroughly and impartially investigated in accordance with international standards, and perpetrators brought promptly to justice.
Note: these requirements are those set out by Defense for Children International Palestine -a national section of Defense for Children International (DCI) - and can be found at http://www.dci-palestine.org/issues_military_detention
We look forward to you confirming that you support the Statement above. Please send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org who will keep us updated on your response on this matter.
[List of signatories and postcodes will be entered here]
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