The statistics and information presented in this fact sheet indicate that the juvenile justice system in the Gaza Strip is in many ways in violation of domestic and international law, including the jus cogens norms on torture and ill-treatment; it fails to adhere to due process standards during arrest and detention and to maintain safeguards during trial. It is evident that law enforcement officers and authorities charged with the care and processing of the minors did not act on the best interests of the child.
Pursuant to Al Mezan’s mandate of protecting and promoting human rights, especially rights of the child, we stress the need for concrete steps to be taken on all levels—legislative, judicial, and executive—to build a holistic and comprehensive juvenile justice system, which prioritizes addressing the root causes of the rise of juvenile delinquency and adopts alternative forms of punishments, whereby imprisonment is a last resort. The system should be based on the child’s best interests principle.
Al Mezan calls for the cooperative implementation, by the community and government, of restorative justice principles in view of repairing harm caused by crime and reducing future harm through crime prevention. Al Mezan re-asserts that security and maintenance of the rule of law is a direct reflection of socioeconomic conditions, not relative to punishment laws. Incarcerating juveniles serves to reduce their educational attainment and increase the probability of incarceration as an adult. In accordance with international and domestic legal standards, juvenile offenders must be rehabilitated and aided in conducting productive lives within the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip. Steps must be taken to immensely ameliorate the socioeconomic conditions in the Gaza Strip, first and foremost by lifting the nearly ten-year illegal closure and blockade imposed by Israel, which is the catalyst of rampant unemployment and poverty in Gaza.