African children, whose parents bring them to Israel illegally will now be held in Givon Prison in Ramle, rather than a special facility for migrant youth, in violation of international law concerning the treatment of children and a 2011 Israeli High Court ruling.According to a report in Israeli daily Ha’aretz, the move to place the children in prison came after six boys escaped from the youth facility last week. The children will now be housed in an adult prison according to the Israeli prison service, in order to ensure that no more children escape.
This decision contravenes a 2011 Israeli High Court ruling that children cannot be held in prisons or with adults. The court cited as justification the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which Israel is a signatory.
The CRC states that at all times, the most important principle regarding the treatment of children is what is in the best interests of the child. The director of the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Reut Michaeli commented, “Givon Prison is a prison in every sense of the word. Once again we’re learning that the good of the child is not the main thing on the state’s mind.’
Although children are being housed in a separate wing from adults, the facility is still a prison designed for adults. The Israeli prison service claims that the situation is temporary.
However, Israel routinely detains Palestinian children in Israeli military prisons with adults. Numerous international organizations including Defence For Children International have documented this practice which Israel’s own courts have found to be illegal.
Given the fact that this inhumane violation of the rights of Palestinian children continues with several hundred Palestinian children currently incarcerated in Israeli military prisons, as well as the increasing xenophobia of the Israeli population, it is unlikely that migrant children will escape this same fate unless the institutional structures within Israel begin to support human rights for all, not only Jewish Israelis.