A Palestinian boy looks through the gate of his family's house at Shatti (beach) refugee camp in Gaza City .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian territories were ranked 195th in the world in a report published last week by the Child Rights International Network (CIRN) regarding how effectively and easily children can defend their rights and gain access to legal resources.
The study by CRIN, a global children’s rights advocacy network, examined the ability children have to protect their rights in 197 different countries to try and create a basic guide for the international community and the UN on improving children's access to justice.
The report included an examination into whether children had the ability to bring lawsuits over a violation of their rights, whether the international law of the child's right to be heard was upheld in national courts, and the level of legal resources made available to children.
Palestine placed 195 in the ranking, just ahead of Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea, making it the third lowest country in granting children access to justice and legal aid.
According to a prior report by the CRIN, since being granted the status of a non-member observer state at the United Nations, Palestine has agreed to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as well as accepted the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict which "signifies the Palestinian National Authority's intention to be legally bound by the terms of the CRC, within the limited scope of its executive powers."
After accepting the RCR, in Palestine, "Children under the age of fifteen are permitted to bring an action before court but must do so through a guardian," according to the CRIN report.
The report pointed out however, that in accordance with Palestinian protocol "religious courts have jurisdiction over religious and personal matters and are under no obligation to consider the CRC when passing judgment," although the Chief Islamic Justice has encouraged judges to take children's rights into account.
Belgium, Portugal, and Spain topped the list as the countries with the highest level of access to justice for children followed closely by Finland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Kenya.
The United Kingdom came in at number 10 while Canada placed in spot 15.
Israel came in at 30, just behind Honduras, Estonia and Columbia. The United States ranked in spot 51.