Established in 1992, Defense for Children International / Palestine Section (DCI/PS) is affiliated with the Geneva-based Defense for Children International, whose roots date back to 1979. DCI/PS describes itself as "an independent, Palestinian non-governmental organization which develops its programs and acts according to Palestinian children's needs and Palestinian priorities." The programs and projects of DCI/PS are implemented within the framework of four main units:
Legal Aid and Representation: “DCI/PS defends the rights of Palestinian children through providing free legal services and consultations to children and families in need. DCI/PS attorneys represent Palestinian children who are detained and brought before Israeli military courts, and the Legal Unit monitors and documents child arrests, the treatment of child prisoners and detention conditions for Palestinian children under 18. Additionally, DCI/PS attorneys intervene in defense of children's rights in areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and, where necessary, represent children brought before Palestinian courts.”
Documentation of Children's Rights: “DCI/PS ... specializes in documenting violations of Palestinian children's rights, both individual and collective, using a team of fieldworkers around the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
Research and International Advocacy: “DCI/PS regularly produces research reports, publications, information briefs and press releases on the status of Palestinian children's rights … On the advocacy level, DCI/PS lobbies and reports to UN bodies.”
Training and Social Mobilization: “A key component of DCI/PS projects and programs is direct work with Palestinian children, including programs to increase children's life skills, awareness of their rights, and to promote their active participation in the community. … In addition, DCI/PS implements awareness campaigns and training courses for the local community, in order to deepen public understanding of children's rights and to strengthen the sense of collective responsibility for promoting and safeguarding these rights. Educational booklets, posters, stickers, and other rights-awareness materials are produced to further this goal.”
Characterizing Israel as an unrepentant violator of Palestinian human rights, DCI/PS regularly condemns the Jewish state's "war crimes," its "collective punishment" of Arabs living within its borders, and its "gross violation of child rights."
DCI/PS bitterly opposes Israel's construction of an anti-terrorism barrier along its border with the West Bank, depicting the barrier as an "Apartheid Wall" that is an affront to the dignity of Palestinians in the region. Says DCI/PS: “Palestinian children report … that the Wall prevents them from going to school, from seeing family and friends, and from getting health care. They say they feel insecure and afraid of the Wall, and that their families are poorer and have lost their lands because of it.”
DCI/PS's official statements and press releases commonly make reference to Palestinian children who allegedly have been killed without cause by Israeli soldiers. In a September 29, 2005 statement, for example, the organization denounced "the systematic and daily violations of the rights of Palestinians in general and of Palestinian children in particular." "Children too young to walk or speak have been shot dead," the statement added, "thousands have been injured, still more have looked on horrified as friends and family members have been killed, maimed, arrested, humiliated. Schools and homes have been demolished, hospitals destroyed. A vast array of discriminatory and illegal movement restrictions including closures, curfews, checkpoints and roadblocks have been imposed on the Palestinian residents of the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories], plunging the Palestinian economy further and further into crisis. ... Israel bears full responsibility for the appalling circumstances in which many Palestinians find themselves ..."
Condemning also Israel's targeted killings of terrorist leaders, to whom DCI/PS refers as "Palestinian activists," the organization was a co-signatory to a public statement that read: "This targeted assassination policy not only circumvents the fundamental right to due process but also risks the further destabilization of an already volatile political situation. … Inevitably, bystanders -- including women and children -- are killed or injured in such operations. Targeted assassinations and other forms of extrajudicial executions violate the fundamental right to life, protected under international human rights and humanitarian law.” Additional signers of this document included such anti-Israel NGOs as Adalah, Al-Haq, the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
In the summer of 2006, when Israel was engaged in simultaneous military conflicts against the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations, DCI/PS condemned Israel's “grave violations and massacres against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, especially children, through [its] ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip … and Lebanon.”
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