Ireland has repeatedly drawn attention to concerns with regard to the treatment of Palestinian prisoners, both directly with the Israeli authorities, and in discussions at EU or UN level. The excessive use of administrative detention has been criticized by the EU on a number of occasions in recent years, and I have also spelt out my concerns about the practice, including here in the Oireachtas. There has been a significant reduction in the use of the practice by Israel during this period, but the problem remains a serious one. At the Universal Peer Review of Israel at the UN Human Rights Council in October 2013, conducted directly with the Israeli Government, Ireland focused in particular on issues relating to the detention of minors, and recommended, inter alia, that Israel end night arrests of children, the admissibility in evidence in military courts of written confessions in Hebrew signed by Palestinian children, the use of solitary confinement against minors, and the denial of access to family members or to legal representation.
These serious concerns were also among those raised by Ireland in its statement under agenda item 7 on ‘the human rights situation in Palestine’ at the 25th session of the Human Rights Council in March.
In addition Ireland raises its concerns bilaterally, both with the Israeli Embassy in Dublin and with the Israeli authorities in Israel, at every appropriate opportunity. Finally, Ireland provides financial support to Israeli and Palestinian NGOs who are active in bringing these issues to light. We have seen some improvements in issues relating to detention, but much more remains to be done.
As I have stated before, it is right that Israel should be held to appropriate standards in dealing with civilians under its military occupation. However, it is only right also to note that Israel is not alone in giving rise to such concerns. Similar or worse treatment of persons in detention could be reported from many other countries in the region and elsewhere.