Detention of Palestinian Children (West Bank)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:48 am on 7th December 2010.

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Photo of Ian Lavery Ian Lavery Labour, Wansbeck 11:48 am, 7th December 2010

I congratulate my hon. Friend Sandra Osborne on securing such an important debate. I am amazed that Members of Parliament are seeking to justify Israel's being allowed to contravene international law. I am disappointed, to say the least, that certain people believe that children can be tret in this way, because, regardless of colour or creed, children are children and we should be looking to protect them under international law.

Article 37(b) of the UN convention on the rights of the child, which has been mentioned by Opposition Members, states clearly:

"The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child...shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time".

That is not the case in Palestine or Israel. Children are taken to court, or to detention centres up and down the west bank and detained for long periods. Around 700 children are prosecuted a year, and 9,000 adult Palestinians have been prosecuted in military courts. Since 2000, around 6,500 Palestinian children have been detained. What I saw at in the military courts beggared belief. Like my hon. Friend Grahame M. Morris, I am a parent, and I have children. The way children were tret in the military courts was absolutely savage, and cannot be justified. Kids as young as 12, and up to 16 were frightened out of their wits. They had not seen their parents since they were detained. They were snatched at the dead of night, bound, put in the back of an Israeli army truck, kicked and beaten, and taken to a detention centre with no parents, no lawyers and no one at all to protect them.

Most of the children-62%-were detained on stone-throwing charges, but even if every one of them were 100% guilty, no member of the public, let alone a Member of Parliament, should try to justify the treatment that they received.