On the 6th of January I attended a Westminster Hall debate on child prisoners and detainees in the occupied Palestinian territories. Many people had been in touch to request that I attend this debate.
The debate was led by Sarah Champion MP and received great support from across the chamber. I was concerned to hear that children as young as 12 are being arrested in the middle of the night, their hands bound behind their back with plastic ties. These children are left with little access to food, water or toilet facilities and when interviewed they are made to sign statements written in Hebrew. 97% do not get any legal representation and children continue to be handcuffed and hooded, a practice that has been strongly condemned by UNICEF.
It was highlighted time and time again that these practises are happening on a massive scale. Around 50% of Palestinian child detainees held in prisons in Israel are in breach of Article 76 of the Forth Geneva Convention. Over 99% of cases in the military courts end in conviction with children most commonly prosecuted for stone throwing.
Military Court Watch reports that 407 children were in detention as of 30th November 2015. The numbers speak for themselves with 750,000 – 800,000 Palestinian men, women and children having been detained since 1967.
We could do more to fight for Palestine’s rights, such as giving them the same favourable trading terms with the EU as Israel. I believe it’s time for the UK Government to stand up for Human Rights.