Thursday, 12 April 2018

Colin Clark MP's reply to my concerns on the detention and treatment of Palestinian minors

I have twice now written to my MP, Colin Clark, who is a member of the Conservative Party  about issues relating to Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people and both times I have been very unhappy with his response. In fact I was so appalled by his response to my letter on Palestinian child prisoners that I wrote back to him about it.

It seems unlikely that he will take up any of the issues which I raise with him in relation to the terrible situation in Palestine or the oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government, in breach of human rights.  So I am going to post his responses on this blog. Please read on.

From: Kate Ramsden []
Sent: 06 January 2018 09:34
To: CLARK, Colin <>
Subject: Stand up for Ahed Tamimi and Palestinian child prisoners

Dear Colin Clark MP,

As a children's rights officer this is an issue which really concerns me and has done for a long time.I have joined with others in sending you this letter but I would appreciate a response.

Each year the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children. From the moment of arrest, Palestinian children encounter ill-treatment. Defence for Children International (DCI-Palestine) have documented that three out of four experience physical violence during arrest or interrogation.

All of this is in direct contravention to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child to which Israel is a signatory.

The recent arrest of 16 year old Ahed Tamimi has shone a spotlight on Israel’s systematic abuse of minors through the process of military detention. The treatment of Ahed has rightly generated a global response, but her situation is far from unique.

A UN report published in 2013 concluded that “Palestinian children arrested by the [Israeli] military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture.” These findings mirrored those within a FCO commissioned report "Children in Military Custody" published in 2012.

Israel has made it clear that they are not willing to work with the British government to address these issues, and that they will not cooperate with the FCO to facilitate a much needed follow-up report. According to DCI-Palestine, children as young as 12 are still routinely:
  • Taken from their homes at gunpoint in night-time raids by soldiers.
  • Blindfolded, bound and shackled
  • Interrogated without a lawyer or relative being present and with no audio-visual recording.
  • Put into solitary confinement.
  • Forced to sign confessions (often in Hebrew – a language they do not understand).
Data compiled by DCI-Palestine between January and June 2017 showed that 81 percent of child prisoners were strip searched, and 11 percent were subjected to stress positions - a practice where a child is forced to stay in a position that puts stress on a particular area of their body. Two-thirds also did not have access to legal counsel prior to interrogation, and only five percent had a parent present.
It is completely unacceptable that Israel remains the only country in the world to automatically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic safeguards for a fair trial. The British government has a responsibility to ensure that Israel complies with international law and that no child should suffer from such traumatic experiences.

The duty to safeguard the rights of children rests on all of us, and as your constituent, I ask that you give your support to ensuring Palestinian children are protected. If you have not already, then please take the simple step of adding your name to the following Early Day Motion (which already has 97 signatures). I would also like to ask you to call for a Parliamentary debate on this important subject.

That this House notes with concern that hundreds of Palestinian children continue to be arrested, detained and tried in Israeli military courts, despite the practice involving widespread and systematic violations of international law and being widely condemned; further notes that allegations of ill-treatment at the hands of Israeli authorities include blindfolding, physical violence and arrest at night; notes the disparity between the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian children by Israeli authorities and calls for those authorities to treat Palestinian children in a way that is not inferior to the way they would any Israeli child; notes that, as the occupying power in the West Bank, Israel has a responsibility under international human rights conventions for the safety, welfare and human rights protection of Palestinian children living under occupation; notes with concern that the recommendations of Unicef's 2013 Children in Israeli Military Detention Report remain largely unmet; and urges the Government to urgently engage with the Government of Israel to end the widespread and systemic human rights violations suffered by Palestinian children in Israeli military custody.

This is not an issue about Israel / Palestine, but simply about ensuring the basic rights of all children are protected. More information can be found on the No Way To Treat A Child website

I look forward to hearing that you will support these actions in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Kate Ramsden


Dear Kate

Thank you for contacting me about Palestinian child prisoners.

In the past few years, Israel has made significant amendments to security legislation, with the aim of further promoting, and protecting the legal rights of minors, during criminal proceedings before the West Bank military justice system. Israeli officials have pledged to continuously review practices.

Palestinian minors have actively and willingly participated in the ongoing campaign of violence against Israel, and unlike criminal trends of juveniles in most societies, 70-75% of crimes carried out by minors in the West Bank are of a violent, ideological nature and pose a clear and imminent threat to the public.

Almost 30% of the attackers in the recent wave of violence against Israelis were Palestinian minors under the age of 18, and the youngest attacker was just 11 years old.

These impressionable young people had been brought up in an environment infected with radical messages from their political leaders in the Palestinian Authority – from TV and social media to school textbooks.

If Israel were to use civil courts instead of military courts to try Palestinian youth, it would be accused of annexing the West Bank. Israel says that its justice system in the West Bank operates in accordance with the Geneva Conventions (as per Article 66 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an Occupying Power can use military courts).

Israel is singled out for its treatment of juvenile offenders despite the wide-ranging reforms it has conducted in law and practice regarding Palestinian minors and its ongoing review of relevant legislative provisions and operational practices.

For these reasons, I will not be supporting this EDM.

I trust that this adequately answers the issues you raised; I will be sure to continue monitoring these developments.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.




Colin Clark MP
Member of Parliament for Gordon
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
( 020 7219 1542

From: Kate Ramsden <>
Date: 8 February 2018 at 22:41:25 GMT
To: "CLARK, Colin" <>
Subject: Re: Stand up for Ahed Tamimi and Palestinian child prisoners
Dear Colin

Are you seriously telling me that you think Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children as young as 12 is acceptable? Arresting them from their beds in the middle of the night and detaining them in adult prisons. Do you know that most are imprisoned for throwing stones? 

I am appalled at your response to me on this issue and your lack of compassion for these children. Whatever your justification, surely it is clear to you that Israel’s actions are in clear breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and there can be no excuse for that. 

Your response in no way adequately answers the issues I raise and I will be continuing to campaign on this matter until the rights of Palestinian children are respected by Israel. Clearly I will need to do so without the support of my MP. 



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