Thank you for contacting me about the detention of Palestinian children and EDM 563. While by practice I do not sign EDMs, let me respond on the issue here.
I agree with you that the detention of children is always extremely worrying and I know that my colleagues in Government share your concerns. Foreign Office Minister, Alistair Burt, raised the UK’s concerns during his visit to Israel last summer, and our ambassador in Tel Aviv raised the issue with the Israeli Justice Minister as recently as December.
Israel has made some progress on this issue. It has reduced the number of detainees aged between 12 and 14, increased the age of maturity from 16 to 18, established separate juvenile courts and enacted a special statute of limitations for minors. However, the UK assessment is that Israel is still falling short and needs to do more to safeguard vulnerable people in its care.
In 2012, an independent report on Children in Military Custody was funded and facilitated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Since its publication, Ministers and our Ambassador to Israel have strongly urged the recommendations of the report to be implemented. To my knowledge, Israel has only implemented one of 40 recommendations.
The UK is committed to helping the Israeli authorities to make the necessary changes. Last year, I understand the UK invited them to attend expert discussions with the Metropolitan Police to share more than 30 years of UK experience of implementing regulations designed specifically to protect the rights of minors in detention. Unfortunately, the invitation was declined.
I continue to take an active interest in this human rights issue and hope that progress can be made.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.