Ministry of Justice
Salah-a-Din Street 29
P.O. Box 49029
Attention: Daniel Friedmann, Minister of Justice
I am writing to you in my capacity as President of Defence for Children International, an international organisation dedicated to the protection of the rights of the child in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We have recently received information from our national sections in the region that there has been a sharp increase in recent months in the number of Palestinian children being sentenced by Israeli military courts and detained inside Israel. I am writing to you to seek an explanation for this disturbing increase.
According to data provided by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) and supplemented by lawyers' visits to temporary detention facilities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the number of Palestinian children (persons under the age of 18) in Israeli detention in February 2009, was 423. This compares with 389 in January (+8.7%), and 342 in December 2008 (+23.7%). Alarmingly, this figure compares with 307 children detained in the corresponding period in 2008, an increase of 37.8%.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a State Party, children should only be detained as a matter of last resort.
Due to the serious nature of this matter, we look forward to receiving your earliest response.
Rifat Odeh Kassis
International Executive Council
Defence for Children International