The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. It is a project of Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.
Vision and Mission
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign is committed to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and envisions a world where all children attain rights in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign implements an integrative approach that incorporates the use of the international human rights framework and movement building to advance the rights and protection of Palestinian children.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by organizing and supporting an extensive network of people demanding immediate protections for Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention where ill-treatment and torture is widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.
Israeli Military Detention
We believe the United States government must use all available means to pressure relevant Israeli authorities to end the detention and abuse of Palestinian children.
Palestinian children in the West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights.
Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system whereas Palestinians live under military law.
Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.
Estimates place the number of Palestinian men, women, and children convicted in Israeli military courts in excess of 700,000, according to UN sources. The US State Department’s 2014 human rights report on Israel states that military courts have more than a 99 percent conviction rate for Palestinian defendants.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year. Since 2011, Israel has held an average of 201 Palestinian children in custody each month, according to data provided by the Israel Prison Service.
Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations.
Defense for Children International – Palestine collected affidavits from 429 West Bank children detained between 2012 and 2015 that show three-quarters of them endured some form of physical violence following arrest. In 97 percent of the cases, children had no parent present during the interrogation or access to legal counsel. Israeli police also did not properly inform them of their rights in 84 percent of the cases.
Recent amendments to Israeli military law concerning children have had little to no impact on their treatment during the first 24 to 48 hours after an arrest, when most of the ill-treatment occurs at the hands of Israeli soldiers, police, and the security service.
International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort and include universal prohibitions against physical violence and torture among other protections. Despite these obligations Israeli authorities persistently disregard and fail to comply with international law.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign is coordinated by American Friends Service Committee and Defense for Children International – Palestine, and includes a network of autonomous organizations committed to shared decision making to influence U.S.-based audiences and decision makers in an effort to secure a just and viable future for Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory where all children attain rights in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards.
National campaign partners include:
American Muslims for Palestine
Amnesty International – USA
Christian Peacemaker Teams
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends of Sabeel North America
Jewish Voice for Peace
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation