Rifat Kassis calls Obama to challenge child rights violation in Palestine
Badayl-Alternatives offer readers an insight that dwells on the issue of the detention of children. In the article below: “Obama and the Palestinian detainee generation” Rifat Kassis, Executive Director, Defence for Children International Palestine writes that “nearly 60 percent of Palestinian child detainees are transferred from occupied territory to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The practical consequence of this is that many of them receive either limited or no family visits due to freedom of movement restrictions and the time it takes to issue a permit to visit the prisons.” He then calls for President Obama to “make firm demands that will lessen the impact of the seemingly interminable, 45-year-old military occupation on Palestinian children” and the need to make “a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future.”
Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-Palestine) is a national section of the international non-governmental child rights organization and movement which is dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), as well as other international, regional and local standards.
Children’s rights in Palestine have become a huge issue in Palestine. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its August report expressed concern for the inadequate protection afforded Palestinian children. They have opined that and Palestinian children continue to be victims of disproportionate and indiscriminate violence from the both the Israeli occupation and internal Palestinian infighting in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “In one of the gravest incidents in July, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Husam Yousef Mosa, was shot in the head with live ammunition and killed by the Israeli border police following an anti-barrier demonstration in Nilin village in the central West Bank,” the report says. The following day, 15-year-old Yousef Ahmad Amira was declared brain dead after he too was shot in the head at close range with several rubber-coated metal bullets, also by Israel’s paramilitary border police.
We strongly recommend you read the article below for a closer look at the plight of children under Israel’s brutal occupation.
This is what the international law states: the child is every human being below 18 years; but the story is different in Palestine. For the Israeli occupation, there is no legal age for childhood. Every Palestinian in their point of view who defends their rights is a terrorist and should be punished.
Obama and the Palestinian detainee generation
By Rifat Kassis, Executive Director, Defence for Children International Palestine
Amid the clamour around the presidential visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank stands an important voice President Barack Obama should hear. It does not belong to the leaders or elites. It is young, shackled, and locked up behind bars. It is the voice of invisible children who hold the power to shape the future in the region.
Instead of enjoying universal safeguards, these leaders of tomorrow are bound, blindfolded, and convicted. Since 1967, Palestinian children have been living under Israeli military law and prosecuted in military courts. Current estimates suggest that every year 500-700 children, some as young as 12 years old, are detained, interrogated and imprisoned within the Israeli military court system where ill treatment is widespread and systematic and fair trial guarantees are seriously lacking.
The majority of children are detained from their West Bank homes during the middle of the night by heavily armed Israeli soldiers. Several hours after their arrest, children arrive at an interrogation and detention center alone, sleep deprived and often bruised and scared. Interrogations tend to be coercive, including a variety of verbal abuse, threats and physical violence that ultimately result in a confession.
Unlike Israeli children living in illegal settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian children are not accompanied by a parent and are generally interrogated without the benefit of legal advice, or being informed of their right to silence. They are overwhelmingly accused of throwing stones, an offense that can potentially lead to a sentence of up to 20 years depending on a child’s age.
Post-arrest, a child’s initial appearance in the military court is usually when he first sees a lawyer and his family. Although many children maintain their innocence, most plead guilty because this is the quickest way out of a system that rarely grants bail.
After sentencing, nearly 60 percent of Palestinian child detainees are transferred from occupied territory to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The practical consequence of this is that many of them receive either limited or no family visits due to freedom of movement restrictions and the time it takes to issue a permit to visit the prisons.
While detaining children for criminal offenses may be justified in certain circumstances, universal international juvenile justice standards should not be ignored. The best interests of the child must be the primary consideration and detention should be used only as a measure of last resort.
President Obama must make firm demands that will lessen the impact of the seemingly interminable, 45-year-old military occupation on Palestinian children. He has declared that both Israelis and Palestinians need to make “a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future.” For Palestinian children, the shackles are very much still an ever-present reality.
For more on the work of DCI Palestine read: www.dci-pal.org