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Children's Rights

International law allocates a specific set of fundamental rights to children, taking into consideration their vulnerabilities, specificities and appropriate needs for development. While the rights of children are enshrined in general instruments such as  the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), they are also protected by specific conventions such as the Declaration of the Rights of the Child as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPCRC).

According to international standards set out in these instruments, all individuals below the age of 18 are considered children and entitled to, amongst others, the right to family life, the right to health care and education, the right to be protected from violence and exploitation. Articles 37 and 40 of the CRC furthermore recognise specific rights for children in detention and/or subjected to trial, and require States to establish a specific system of justice for minors.

Despite the fact that the CRC is the most widely ratified human rights Convention, children’s rights remains disrespected in practice. Alkarama documents multiple instances of children in the Arab region who were subjected to summary executions during armed conflict, enforced disappearance, mistreatment and torture in detention and unfair trials before jurisdictions that do not respect the standards of juvenile justice. As the Human Rights Council has not yet created a special procedure on the rights of children, Alkarama submits cases of violations to other mechanisms such as Committee on the Rights of the Child or to the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

On 3 February 2017, Alkarama raised the case of 15 women and children, who, on 29 January 2017, were killed in a military operation in the Al Bayda Governorate in Yemen by American and Emirati military forces, with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (SRSUMX), Dr Agnes Callamard.

On 25 January 2017, Alkarama alerted the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) of the abduction of seven students – ranging from 16 to 22 years old – by the State Security between October 2016 and January 2017. Despite their families’ numerous attempts to clarify their fate and whereabouts, the authorities continue to deny their detention.

On the morning of 10 January 2017, as children were making their way to the Al Fallah Model School in the town of Bani Mesar in the Nihm District of Sana’a Governorate, the Saudi-led coalition striked the town, killing a school teacher and two students.

On the morning of 10 January 2017, as children were making their way to the Al Fallah Model School in the town of Bani Mesar in the Nihm District of Sana’a Governorate, the Saudi-led coalition striked the town, killing a school teacher and two students.

On 25 October 2016, Walid Diab, a 18-year-old Lebanese citizen from Tripoli, was released from the juvenile section of Roumieh prison where he was detained, following a release order issued the same day by the Juvenile Court in Tripoli.

On 21 September 2014, Murtaja Algariras, 13 years old at the time, was arrested by Saudi police on his way to Bahrain. During the investigation, Murtaja was tortured to extract confessions stating his participation in "illegal gatherings". Almost two years after his arrest, Murtaja has not yet been charged and no date has been set for his trial.

On 17 July 2016, the Israeli Central Criminal Court issued a verdict sentencing Muawiya Alqam, a 15-year-old from Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, to six and a half years imprisonment and to pay a fine of 26,000 shekels (about 6,750$). Muawiya was violently arrested in 2015 and deprived of his basic fair trial rights, a discriminatory treatment applied to Palestinians only.

Two teenagers, Muawiya Alqam and Shadi Farrah, as young as 15 and 13 years old, are currently amongst the hundreds of Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons. Both violently arrested and deprived of their basic fair trial rights, a discriminatory treatment applied to Palestinians only, they are now facing prosecution before the Israeli Central Criminal Court for "possessing knives."

Alkarama welcomes the release, on 24 April 2016, of 12-year-old Palestinian student Dima Al-Wawi, who was arrested on her way to school on 9 February 2016 and, on 18 February, was sentenced by the Israeli Ofer Court to four months in prison for “carrying a knife”, which according to the court, would have been used to kill Israeli settlers.