The Rafto Prize 2023 to Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP)

For their persistent work to defend and promote the rights of children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Rafto Prize 2023 is awarded to Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) for their persistent work to defend and promote the rights of children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). For over 30 years, DCIP has investigated, documented and pursued accountability for grave human rights violations against children; held Israeli and Palestinian authorities accountable to universal human rights principles; and advocated at the international and national levels to advance access to justice and protection for children.

About DCIP

DCIP operates under extreme pressure and threats. In October 2021, DCIP was, along with five other Palestinian human rights organizations, designated as a terrorist organization by Israeli authorities. Israel has not provided evidence to justify the claims. Despite the devastating targeting of its leadership, the smearing of its purpose, and the ransacking and destruction of its offices by Israeli authorities, DCIP remains a crucial and long-standing force of progressive advocacy for Palestinian children.

Khaled Quzmar, General Director of Defense – Children International Palestine (DCIP), in their office in Ramallah, Palestine. Photo: The Rafto Foundation.

Deprived Childhoods: Palestinian children under attack

According to the UN Palestine/Israel is one of the countries where most “grave violations” against children happen. DCIP has documented 2281 Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces and settlers since 2000. In the OPT, there are often no safe spaces for children, as refugee camps, homes, schools, and streets are targets for demolition, incursion, violent assault and killing by the Israeli military and settlers.

Children living under apartheid

In recent years, major human rights organizations have defined discriminatory and oppressive Israeli policies and practices as “apartheid.” Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system. Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory: Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system, whereas Palestinians live under military law. In occupied East Jerusalem, Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.

One of many therapy dolls in DCIP’s office. Photo: The Rafto Foundation.

Protecting children, holding authorities accountable, and fighting for change

By awarding the Rafto Prize 2023 to Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) the Rafto Foundation sheds light on their persistent work to defend and promote children’s rights. We call upon international bodies and organizations, including the United Nations, and on all countries, to investigate and demand an immediate end to violations of children’s rights in the OPT and in other armed conflict situations across the globe. We call upon both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to respect and enforce children’s rights espoused in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments.

The Rafto Prize will be presented on Sunday 12 November 2023, at the Bergen National Theatre in Norway.