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News code: 28360
Published Date: Tuesday 8 October 2019 - 14:15:48
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1.5 million children deprived of liberty each year; new study found

1.5 million children deprived of liberty each year; new study found
World  - A group of 170 nongovernmental organization reached to a new global study on children deprived of their liberty, hoping it would prompt United Nations member countries to take steps to dramatically decrease the number of children detained and confined.

"Children are often detained illegally, unnecessarily, and at great cost to their health and future," said Alex Kamarotos, director of Defence for Children International and co-chair of the NGO Panel for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. "The Global Study should prompt every country to adopt new policies and practices to dramatically decrease the number of children who are locked up."

Manfred Nowak, a UN independent expert, is presenting the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty to the UN General Assembly in New York today. The study found that approximately 1.5 million children are deprived of their liberty each year.

Nowak recommended that states "most rigorously" apply the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that deprivation of liberty shall be applied only as a measure of last resort in exceptional cases. He urged countries to "make all efforts to significantly reduce the number of children held in places of detention and prevent deprivation of liberty before it occurs, including addressing the root causes and pathways leading to deprivation of liberty in a systemic and holistic manner."

Anyone under age 18 - detained in the administration of justice, in immigration detention, in orphanages and other institutions, living in prison with their caregivers, and detained in the context of armed conflict and national security, have been studied.
Some of the Study's key findings:

• At least 410,000 children are held every year in jails and prisons, where violence is "endemic." Many are charged with "status offenses" that are not criminal offenses for adults, including truancy, disobedience, and underage drinking;

• Although UN experts have concluded that detention of children for migration-related reasons can never be in the best interests of a child, at least 330,000 children in 77 countries are held in immigration detention each year;

• While between 430,000 and 680,000 children have been placed by judicial authorities in institutions that meet the legal definition of deprivation of liberty, the total number of children in institutions is estimated at 3.5 to 5.5 million;


• Children with disabilities are significantly overrepresented in detention in the context of administration of justice and institutions; and

• The number of children detained in the context of armed conflict and national security has increased sharply, driven by aggressive counterterrorism measures that include detention and prosecution of children for online activity, including posts to Facebook and Twitter.

"Detention is fundamentally harmful to children, yet many countries use it as their first response to difficult circumstances, rather than the last," said Jo Becker, child rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch and co-chair of the NGO Panel. "Governments should invest in alternatives that not only protect children's rights but produce much better outcomes for children, families, and society overall."

The members of the NGO Panel urged governments to carry out the Global Study's recommendations. These include collecting reliable and systematic data on children deprived of liberty, and creating national action plans aimed at an overall reduction in the number of children in detention and/or the elimination of detention for children. The NGO Panel members also urged the General Assembly to formally designate a UN entity to lead follow-up efforts.

 

News Code: 28360
Published Date: Tuesday 8 October 2019 - 14:15:48
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