Children in Israeli Military Detention: Observations and Recommendations
A. Executive summary
All children in contact with judicial systems should be treated with dignity and respect at all times. For several years, national lawyers, human rights organizations, United Nations experts and treaty bodies have been publishing reports of illtreatment of children who come in contact with the Israeli military detention system.
Following an increasing number of allegations of ill-treatment of children in military detention, UNICEF has conducted a review of practices related to children who come into contact with the military detention system, from apprehension, to court proceedings and outcome.
The review further considers whether the military detention system is in conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Following an overview of policies and norms related to the prohibition of ill-treatment in international law, the paper presents the structure and operation of the Israeli military detention system, including the legal framework, establishment of a juvenile military court, age of criminal responsibility and penalties under military law. The paper also reviews the legal safeguards in place against ill-treatment under military law and discusses their conformity with the norms, guarantees and safeguards found in international law. Subsequently, the treatment of children in the military detention system is presented, following the passage of children through the system.
This paper is a result of this review and analysis of practices. It concludes that the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing.
It is understood that in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights. All children prosecuted for offences they allegedly committed should be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, which provide them with special protection. Most of these protections are enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The paper concludes with 38 specific recommendations grouped under 14 broad headings designed to improve the protection of children in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international laws, norms and standards.