SWC: Nations, NGO Must Demand Release of Innocents; Taking Children as Prisoners is a War Crime

October 10, 2023

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an NGO at the United Nations and other international agencies, urges all nations who claim to be guided by the principals of decency, as well as NGOs dedicated to protecting women and children — demand the immediate and unconditional release of the innocents from 15 nations violently kidnapped by the Hamas terrorist group.

The horrific and unspeakable video postings by Hamas, a proxy of the genocide-seeking Iranian regime, have already provided evidence of their massacre and mass murder of innocent civilians in their homes, the kidnappings of children and mothers, and grandmothers who were brutally taken hostage and brought back to Gaza to serve as human shields for Hamas’ military arsenal.

262 young Israeli people were butchered by Hamas while attending a peace concert. Some were raped, tortured and are also among the hostages in Gaza.

It is a crime of war to take children as prisoners. We implore the international community to act now and demand the release of innocents taken hostage.

Major international resolutions to protect children’s rights:

1959: the Declaration of the Rights of the Child is adopted by the UN General Assembly, highlighting the unique nature of childhood and rights specific to children.

1989: The International Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) is adopted unanimously by the UN general Assembly and becomes an international treaty in 1990. Its 54 articles address the economic, social and cultural rights of the child. It defines a child as “every human being below the age of eighteen years UNLESS UNDER THE LAW APPLICABLE TO THE CHILD, MATURITY IS ATTAINED EARLIER.” Which could allow for children to be treated as adults too early.

2002, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC) prohibiting the participation of minors in armed conflict is ratified and entered into force. “Responding to the perceived gaps of the CRC in relation to child recruitment, the Optional Protocol introduces a blanket prohibition of recruitment of children under 18 by non-State armed groups (NSAG) and their use in hostilities, regardless of whether the recruitment process can be considered forced or voluntary (article 4), and requires that States parties take all the necessary measures to prevent such recruitment, including criminalization (article 4(2)).[1]

OPAC is a commitment that:
  • States will not recruit children under the age of 18 to send them to the battlefield.

  • States will not conscript soldiers below the age of 18.

  • States should take all possible measures to prevent such recruitment –including legislation to prohibit and criminalize the recruitment of children under 18 and involve them in hostilities.

  • States will demobilize anyone under 18 conscripted or used in hostilities and will provide physical, psychological recovery services and help their social reintegration.

  • Armed groups distinct from the armed forces of a country should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities anyone under 18.[2]

  • (The “State of Palestine” Ratification, Accession: April 7, 2014, Declaration “…in accordance with article 3(2) of the Optional Protocol, (…) the minimum age for recruitment of persons into Palestine’s national armed forces is 18 years.”[3] [4])

For further information contact the Center’s Communications department at pressinquiries@wiesenthal.com, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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