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Do you remember UNICEF?  Perhaps you remember the "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" program that raised millions of dollars for that organization.  They're still around and they're still helping children!  Here's a very brief summary of what UNICEF is and what they do:

UNICEF was created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. In 1954, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations System and its name was shortened from the original United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund to the current United Nations Children's Fund but it has continued to be known by the popular acronym based on the old name.

UNICEF's mission, put simply, is to provide long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.  In their own words, "UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS."

They have also been actively involved in ending violence against women and girls, hosting A Girl’s Right to Learn Without Fear and issuing this Joint statement on ending violence against women and girls.  They have also called for additional funding for education in Libya and have been actively bringing attention to problems in Syria - violence against children and interruption of education because of the conflict there.

Two days ago (on Wednesday, March 6, 2103), UNICEF issued an extensive and well-documented report on the abuse of children in a military detention system in the Middle East.  Yes, there is a country in the Middle East which is using soldiers to arrest and detain children and is then imprisoning, trying, and convicting children in a military court system - not in a civil court system.  These children are often subjected to "intimidation, threats and physical violence".  Sometimes, "Children have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member."  Also, "Some children have been held in solitary confinement, for a period ranging from two days up to one month before the court hearing as well as after sentencing. (The judge has the authority to extend the initial four-day period to one month, and then to further extend it up to a maximum of 90 days.)"

Is this Iran doing this to children?  Iraq or China, perhaps?  Maybe North Korea or Saudi Arabia?  No.  These facts have not been uncovered by UNICEF in any of those nations.  Let's unveil the real culprit below the squiggle, shall we?

UNICEF conducted an extensive investigation after lawyers, human rights organizations,
United Nations experts and treaty bodies published reports of ill-treatment of children who come in contact with this military detention system.  The final report "concludes that the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing.

The report also states:

It is understood that in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights.
My dear reader would you stand for the US doing this to children?  Would you stand for it if these were the children of known terrorists?  Would you stand for it if the crime over which most of these children are being arrested and tried in a military court is the horrendous crime of throwing a rock?  Yes, most of these children are being put through this abuse for throwing a rock.  Who does this to children?  I ask you this sincerely - who does this to children?  Well, if the child is a Palestinian child - the nation doing this to them is Israel.

The news report from Reuters is here.

The UNICEF press release is here.

The UNICEF report which details this abomination (in .PDF format) is right here.  PLEASE read it.  Skip the Executive Summary.  The part that will curl your toenails is listed under heading E, titled "Treatment of Children in the Military Detention System".  Additional details can be found under headings D and F.

Here is the Wikipedia link to the The Convention on the Rights of the Child to which every nation on Earth (including Israel) is a committed party - except for Somalia (which has a barely-functioning government yet has at least signed it), South Sudan (which has a brand new government that is still sorting out internal issues), and (you can't make this stuff up) The United States of America - which has signed the Convention but has not bothered to ratify it and is therefore not legally bound by it.

Here is the Wikipedia link to The UN Convention Against Torture which the UNICEF report cites.

The Wikipedia link to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the UNICEF report also cites.

There are other pieces of International Law which the UNICEF report cites in this report.  They're listed in the beginning under "Abbreviations and acronyms".


If you don't give a damn about Human Rights, you're probably not part of this website.  If you feel that no nation should treat children this way, contact your senators and your rep in the house about this.  The USA shelters Israel from many UN and UNSC resolutions, but we must NOT permit this to continue.  We can't permit our government to provide shelter for this in the UN - for it is wrong.  Phone your elected representatives, e-mail them, write them something on paper, but PLEASE contact them!

The question I must leave you with is, "Why would anybody do this to children?"  For that, I have no answer.

Originally posted to Celtic Merlin's Cauldron on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 03:10 PM PST.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.

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