UK Minister calls on Israel to bring detention practices in line with law

October 30, 2012
Sarah Benton

Palestinian youth, restrained by blindfold, handcuffs and being forced to kneel before being detained. Photo by flickr/severinelaville

UK Foreign Office minister calls for Israel to take action on Palestinian detainees

Alistair Burt MP urges Israel to improve treatment of children by ending shackling, night-time arrests and introducing audio-visual recording of interrogations

October 29 2012

Caabu welcomes the British government’s call for Israel to bring their treatment of Palestinian child and adult detainees closer in line with international standards.

Following a question from Richard Burden MP, Chair of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Group and one of the first MPs to witness Israel’s treatment of child prisoners on a Caabu delegation, the Middle East Minister, Alistair Burt, announced on Wednesday that he was taking action to pressure Israel to improve the conditions of children in Israeli custody.

In his written question to the Foreign Office, Burden referenced Caabu’s latest report, Palestinian detainees: no security in injustice, [September 2012]  which found that Israel’s treatment of children, extensive resort to detention without trial, and its dual judicial system in the West Bank amount to systematic discrimination against Palestinians and a serious obstacle to peace.

Caabu delegates who have seen children tried in Israel’s military courts have been vocal on the issue in Parliament, securing the first ever debate on the subject in December 2010. As a result of this pressure, the Foreign Office has started to pay considerable attention to Palestinian child prisoners and begun its own investigations. In his response to Burden, Alistair Burt said that the Foreign Office was urging the Israeli government to end shackling, night-time arrests and to introduce audio-visual recordings of interrogations.

Burt also said that the government had made representations to the Israeli Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister about Israel’s extensive use of detention without charge or trial.

The full question and response can be viewed on Hansard [below].

Middle East

Written answer, parliamentary question, Hansard
October 24, 2012

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the findings of the Council for Arab-British Understanding’s report entitled Palestinian detainees: no security in injustice published in September 2012; and if he will make a statement. [R] [124641]

Alistair Burt: I am aware of the Council for Arab-British Understanding’s report on Palestinian detainees. Israel’s extensive use of administrative detention has been raised on a number of occasions with Israel’s ambassador to the UK and the Israeli Government, including with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Vice Prime Minister and National Security Adviser. We also funded and facilitated an independent report into the issue of child detainees by leading British lawyers: [Children in Military Custody here]

We are urging the Israeli Government to take forward the recommendations from this report, including an end to shackling and night-time arrest of children, and the introduction of audio-visual recording of interrogations. The UK’s ambassador to Israel has discussed the children in military custody report’s findings with the Israeli Attorney General and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are continuing this dialogue. I have also written to the Israeli ambassador on the subject and have met Baroness Scotland, as one of the authors, to discuss follow up to this report.

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