New report urges action to protect Palestinian children in Israeli military detention

Montreal, June 14, 2023 — A new report by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) calls on the Canadian government to take immediate action to uphold the rights of Palestinian children in Israel’s military court system. Titled "Heartbreaking Disparity: Child Detainees in Canada vs. Israel," the report compares the treatment of Palestinian child detainees in the Israeli-occupied West Bank to both Jewish settler detainees that live in the same territory as well as child detainees in Canada. In doing so, the report exposes the disparity in the way that Palestinian children are treated, as part of Israel’s system of apartheid and state-sponsored violence against Palestinian children.

“Israel’s discriminatory and abusive treatment of Palestinian children in the military court system is clearly out of step with how Canadians expect children should be treated, and completely intolerable,” asserted Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “We felt it was necessary to highlight this disparity to make the mistreatment more evident and tangible to Canadians,” added Woodley.

The top recommendation of the report is that Canada immediately appoint a Special Rapporteur to monitor and protect the rights of Palestinian children, a long-time demand of civil society groups like Canada Stand Up for Palestinian Children’s Rights (CSUFPCR), as well as Members of Parliament. “After decades of mistreatment of Palestinian children detainees, it is clear that Israel will not address these abuses under its authority without international scrutiny and pressure,” argued Marianna Harris, co-chair of CSUFPCR.

CJPME’s report highlights several key distinctions in how Palestinian children are treated in Israel’s military court system, compared to Jewish Israelis and Canadian detainees. For example, child detainees in Canada have the right to a guardian/lawyer during interrogation, while Israeli military law does not provide the same right to Palestinian children. In Canada, a statement made by a child is only accepted if it was made voluntarily, while Israel subjects Palestinian children to both mental and physical coercion with the intent of forcing confessions. In addition, while Canada imprisons children as a last resort, Israel’s military court system imprisons children as the default sanction to punish Palestinian children.

CJPME’s report offers several recommendations for the Canadian government to take to protect the rights of Palestinian Children. For example, it calls on Canada to:

  • Appoint a Special Envoy to promote, monitor and report on the human rights situation of Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza;
  • Condemn Israel’s systemic abuses of Palestinian children, and demand an end to torture, house arrests, solitary confinement, administrative detention, and the prosecution of Palestinian children in military courts;
  • Accept and promote the findings of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child when it issues its forthcoming country-specific review on Israel;
  • Give its full support to the International Criminal Court’s investigation into war crimes committed in the OPT, including crimes against children; and
  • Condemn Israel’s campaign of persecution against advocates for Palestinian children and other detainees, especially Palestinian civil society organizations Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) and Addameer, which were unjustly criminalized by Israel in October 2021.

About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

For more information, please contact:

  • Michael Bueckert, VP CJPME, 613-315-7947, or
  • Marianna Harris, Co-chair, CSUFPCR, [email protected]

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

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