Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Questions (763)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

763. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the arrest and detention of five young children by the Israeli Defence Forces on 10 March 2021 in the Masafer Yatta region near Hebron; his views on the way in which the arrest and detention of children in military courts and prisons accord with the International Rights of the Child; his views on reports that such breaches by the Israeli Defence Forces are a regular occurrence; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that children of similar age in illegal settlements are dealt with under civil law; if he condemns such practices; if he will raise this issue with the appropriate authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14747/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am deeply concerned by the unacceptable manner and practices around the detention and trial of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons and the Israeli military court system.  Israel is bound, as a contracting party, by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). I am not satisfied that Israel is meeting its obligations under these Conventions.

All children subject to Israeli jurisdiction and criminal justice, including in territory occupied by Israel, should be afforded the same protections under the law as Israel considers appropriate for Israeli children, including those resident in settlements.

During my visits to Israel and Palestine, I have raised Ireland’s concerns about the detention of minors directly with the Israeli authorities. I have strongly urged the Israeli authorities to use detention only as a last resort, and for the shortest possible period of time, in the case of minors, as stipulated in the CRC.

The Israeli military court system in the occupied territory, which is used only in relation to Palestinians, including children, has a near-one hundred percent conviction rate, a statistic which raises serious questions about the system’s compliance with international standards of due process.

Ireland has also raised these issues at EU level. In February 2021, the Foreign Affairs Council adopted Conclusions on EU Priorities in UN human rights fora, which reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to the full implementation of the CRC and its Protocols worldwide.

In relation to the situation in Masafer Yatta referred to by the Deputy, Irish officials are aware and continue to monitor the case. Ireland continues to support a number of key Palestinian and Israeli NGOs in their work on the monitoring, advocacy and legal defence of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.