Lavinia Moore (SA) writes to the Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd re child prisoners 27Oct11 October 27, 2011

To the Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs
Kevin Rudd M.P.

Dear Minister Rudd,

I like most other Australians have been made aware of the “prisoner swap” that has recently taken place  and that was agreed between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. It has already resulted in the restoration of hundreds of prisoners to their families and communities.

Like many other persons I have asked “Why haven’t the child prisoners been released and restored to their families and communities? Of all prisoners they ought to be the first released, if indeed they should ever been imprisoned in the first place. A practice I abhor and a practice which I have long opposed.

During Howard’s time as P.M. I was amongst many Australians who lobbied for children to be released from Immigration detention in Australia. (Sad to say I am having to fight that battle all over again).
Australia, as a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child should have known better. Well, actually, they do know better. But seem at times to forget that they also have a responsibility to act better.

What I want is for Australians, and in particular our parliamentary representatives and political leaders to act in accordance with that Convention.  I hope that I do not need to remind you that the Convention clearly states that “bearing in mind” that a child “needs special safeguards and care including appropriate legal protection”, state parties who are signatories of the Convention (as Australia is) “shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures” to implement the rights recognised in the Convention.

These rights include the right not to be discriminated against on grounds including those of gender, race, religion, political and other opinion, the right of freedom of expression, and the right not to be separated from their parents (unless through judicial review it is considered in the child’s interests).

In addition, Palestinian children have rights inherent in their being civilians under occupation. Those rights are protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Australia is also a signatory of that Convention.

While it may be that the exact number of children held by Israeli authorities in detention, interrogation centres or prison is not exactly known at any precise minute, given that so many Palestinian children are arrested and/or prosecuted every year, it is suggested that between 150 and 170 child prisoners is the current figure.

As the Minister of our government with responsibilities to represent our country in foreign affairs and international matters, I urge you to act in the fullness of that capacity, and press your Israeli counterpart to recognise that these children ought to be released in accordance with international laws and conventions.You may wish to remind the Israeli government that Israel is also a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I look forward to a media flurry in this country that takes heartfelt delight when Palestinian children are restored to their loving parents!

I would be pleased if you could write a response to my email.

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