In an additional item – a news bulletin aired on the BBC News Channel on the same day – viewers heard the following: [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]
Ben Brown: “A Palestinian teenager has been freed from an Israeli prison after serving an eight month sentence for slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier. Ahed Tamimi was 16 at the time of the incident and the footage of it happening went viral around the world. Her sentence was widely condemned, as children are protected by international law from imprisonment. I’ve been talking about this to the BBC Arabic Service’s Nida Ibrahim, who saw the teenager being released.”
Nida Ibrahim: “As you know, children are not allowed to be tried under international law however children living under the Israeli occupation; Palestinian children living under the Israeli occupation, are facing trials under military courts in Israel. This has caused many, this has caused an outcry, many human rights organisations have criticised that sentence by Israel and many say that this case is shedding light on the case of many Palestinian minors.”
Ben Brown also made a similar claim in another TV programme on the same day:
Brown: “This isn’t a one-off case, is it? Children are often tried in military courts and imprisoned in adult jails. It’s against international law. What is Israel’s explanation for that?”
Mr Stephen Franklin submitted a complaint concerning that highlighted claim (and other aspects of the report), pointing out that it is inaccurate to claim that it is against international law to try or imprison children under the age of 18.
Having received an unsatisfactory response to his first complaint, Mr Franklin filed a second and in the subsequent response BBC Complaints acknowledged that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) does not prohibit the trial or imprisonment of under-18s.
“We agree, however, that we should not have implied that children are protected from imprisonment itself by international law. We should have made it clear that the Convention says children should be arrested, detained or imprisoned only as a last resort and for the shortest time possible.”
Mr Franklin submitted a Stage 2 complaint to the Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). In its reply the ECU acknowledged that there is a “question” regarding “the extent to which this [the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child] can be described as “international law”” and ruled that:
“…the reference to the CRC (what we understood was meant by “international law”) did not accurately describe its terms, in that the convention does not proscribe the trial or imprisonment of children. We are therefore upholding this part of your complaint.”
The ECU has now published its findings.