'State violating law of foreign-resident minors'

State comptroller report says state's agencies violating the domestic Law of the Child as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

May 8, 2013 15:54
2 minute read.
Foreign workers' children protest

Foreign workers children 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters)


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One of the hot issues in the 2013 State Comptroller’s Report is the description of the state’s agencies violating the domestic Law of the Child as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding resident minors who are not citizens.

Israel became obligated by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child when it ratified the convention in 1991.

In the report, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira notes that since 2006 a large number of minors, with no status as citizens, have lived in Israel.

Without identifying them as African migrants and while not referring only to those migrants (the report said it encompasses around 211,000 persons, of whom only a third could be described as African migrants), the document alludes to a large group, noting that many of the minors have entered the country illegally via the Egyptian border since 2006.

Still, the report said that the state has domestic and international obligations to defend these children’s rights and their welfare as well as to protect them from discrimination and from being punished because of their status, and that the state is failing to meet many of its obligations.

“The heart is tormented at the sight of an infant which is left for many hours in conditions of neglect and filth,” the report said.

The public’s heart was torn by “the sight of a youngster that is left for long months in a detention facility, after enduring harsh situations and even experiencing physical and emotional harm on the way to Israel,” Shapira wrote.

The “values of Israel” must be preserved regarding these minors, said the report.

The defects in dealing with non-citizen resident minors that it identified “indicate the need for a substantial change to the policies of some of the authorities whose activities were reviewed.”

The report heavily criticized a Social Services and Welfare Ministry decision in 2009 to only assist non-citizen resident minors if they were explicitly in danger, but not to assist those who were in difficult socioeconomic circumstances, as it does with Israeli citizens.

It indicated that the decision had been taken with no real review of the problem, no collecting of information on the issue and no intergovernmental consultations.

Shapira said he had been told that the decision was taken because of budget problems, but he responded that budget problems were not a justification for violating minors’ domestic and international fundamental rights.

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