Exposing Israel’s Abuse of Palestinian Child Detainees

CJPME is proud to publish its latest analysis, “Heartbreaking Disparity: Child Detainees in Canada vs. Israel.” The report exposes the cruel and discriminatory treatment that Palestinian child detainees face in Israel’s military court system, and provides a call for action to protect and uphold their rights.

The report is unique in how it compares Canada’s treatment of child detainees to Israel’s treatment of Palestinian child detainees – the first-ever report to do so.  In this way, CJPME hopes to make Israel’s abuses even more evident and tangible to Canadians.

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Appalling Israeli Treatment of Palestinian Child Detainees

On average, Israel detains 500-700 Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) each year, who face systemic violations including torture, house arrests, solitary confinement, and administrative detention.

This report clearly demonstrates that Israel’s abuse of Palestinian children is out of step with how Canadians expect children should be treated. The report’s top recommendation is that Canada should immediately appoint a Special Rapporteur to monitor and protect the rights of Palestinian children. This is a long-time demand of civil society groups like Canada Stand Up for Palestinian Children’s Rights (CSUFPCR), and is a policy that a group of Members of Parliament have been calling for since 2018.

Key Differences, Canada vs. Israel

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,

  • In Canada, detainees have the right to have a guardian and/or lawyer present during interrogation, whereas under Israeli military law, Palestinian children have no right to have a guardian present during their interrogation and are almost universally denied access to legal counsel prior to and during interrogation.
  • In Canada, any statement made by a young person is only admissible if it was made voluntarily and with a full understanding of the consequences, whereas Palestinian children under Israeli military law are frequently subject to mental and physical coercion with the intent of forcing confessions.
  • In Canada, torture is strictly prohibited (though some reported cases exist), but Palestinian children under Israeli military law experience the widespread and systematic use of torture, including long periods of solitary confinement.
  • In Canada, incarceration of children is considered a last resort, whereas Israel’s military court system considers prison sentences the default sanction to punish Palestinian children.

Report Recommendations

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.
CJPME’s mission is to enable Canadians of all backgrounds to promote justice, development and peace in the Middle East, and here at home in Canada. Read other articles by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, or visit Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East's website.