During April 2014, the Global Campaign has turned it’s focus to immigration detention of children in Israel.
Arrest and detention of children of migrants and asylum seekers in Israel has become the default, rather than the last course of action. In recent years hundreds of boys and girls, between the ages of 0-18, have found themselves in detention facilities without healthcare, without an education, without appropriate care and accompaniment of mental health professionals.
Hundreds of children could be prevented from being placed in immigration detention by using community-based alternatives, as is done in many other countries.
The Israel coalition to end child detention began in 2012 and is a joint project between Physicians for Human Rights, The Hotline for Refugees & Migrants, Israeli Children Project in the Association for Human Rights, with partnership from UNHCR Israel.
Their focus is on preventing immigration detention of children through the use of alternatives, and they have developed a national action plan, sitting now with the Israeli Government, which recommends a community-based alternative to immigration detention for migrant children.
The international focus activities were held during the Jewish Festival of Passover, which celebrates freedom, advocating that this children should be extended to all children in Israel.
RESEARCH ON CHILD DETENTION
A study of the detention of migrant children in Israel has revealed that 83% of children and parents interviewed, who had spent time in immigration detention, showed post-traumatic symptoms.
The study, conducted by Rotem Ilan of “End Child Detention” coalition with the advisory of Prof. Michelle Sloan and Ph.D student Yael Me’ir, was conducted of 66 children, adolescents and their parents, both asylum seekers and work migrants, who were detained in the past or are detained presently in Israel.
The research shows that children are arrested during early morning-time, while still in their beds, some are separated from their families, some are detained without proper conditions and without access to medical and welfare services and education.
Many children were subjected to previous traumas and some endured torture in camps in Sinai. These traumas are made worse by the traumatic arrest experience
and time spent in detention facilities.
The “End Child Detention” coalition calls on the state of Israel to adopt alternatives to detention, such alternatives that do not cause irreversible damage and are being implemented in many states today.
The Coalition developed a National Action Plan that sits now with the Israeli Parliament and a Position Paper on Alternatives to Detention is available in English
OP-ED IN THE INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES
As Passover began, this Editorial by Shauna Leven was published in the International Business Times Passover 2014: Israel’s Detention of Children is a Betrayal of the Exodus.
Shauna Leven is the Director of René Cassin, a London-based organisation that protects universal human rights drawing on Jewish experience and values and is a campaign endorser.