A Palestinian child takes part in a march organised by the ruling Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza's Nusseirat refugee camp on September 27, 2013
A Palestinian child takes part in a march organised by the ruling Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza's Nusseirat refugee camp on September 27, 2013 © Mahmud Hams - AFP/File
A Palestinian child takes part in a march organised by the ruling Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza's Nusseirat refugee camp on September 27, 2013
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AFP
Last updated: October 15, 2013

Israel army reforms child arrest methods

Israel's army has agreed to test alternative treatment for Palestinian children it arrests in the West Bank following international pressure to introduce reforms, the UN Children's Fund said on Monday.

UNICEF, which in a March 2013 report described mistreatment of children in Israeli prisons as "widespread," said in a statement that Israel was taking steps towards addressing that report's recommendations.

The measures being tested include the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) issuing summons for children instead of arresting them at night at their homes.

And a military order in April reduced from four days to 24 hours the amount of time a 12-13-year-old can be detained until being brought before a military judge.

But UNICEF stressed in a progress report published Monday that "violations are ongoing," citing 19 sample cases of alleged abuse of teenage boys in the West Bank in the second quarter of 2013.

In all cases, the boys suffered physical violence, including beating, kicking and slapping, while in 17 cases they were verbally abused.

UNICEF's March report, entitled "Children in Israeli Military Detention," said Israel was the only country in the world where children were systematically tried in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."

"Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalised," it concluded, outlining 38 recommendations.

Over the past decade, Israeli forces have arrested, interrogated and prosecuted around 7,000 children between 12 and 17, mostly boys, UNICEF found, noting the rate was equivalent to "an average of two children each day."

"The monthly average for 2013 shows that 219 children per month were in Israeli military custody, compared to 196 per month in 2012, marking a 12 percent increase," UNICEF said on Monday.

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