United Nations Task Force calls on Member States to end children’s deprivation of liberty

Children – Liberty

United Nations Task Force calls on Member States to end children’s deprivation of liberty
Geneva/ New York/ Vienna, October 8 – The United Nations Task Force supporting the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty calls on Member States to put an end to children’s deprivation of liberty, following the submission and presentation of a report by the Independent Expert to the UN General Assembly.

The Independent Expert’s report highlights that while this year marks the 30 th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a landmark treaty aiming at promoting and protecting the rights of children’s worldwide, countless children still suffer violations of their basic human rights. The UN Task Force further notes that in adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Member States made a clear commitment to leave no child behind and yet, children deprived of liberty continue to be one of the most vulnerable, invisible and forgotten groups in societies across the globe. The UN Task Force joins the Independent Expert in calling on States to end the deprivation of liberty of children or those at most risk as a matter of urgency. The Task Force emphasizes that it is indeed time to put the most vulnerable first.

Children around the world are deprived of their liberty in closed institutions, psychiatric centres or detention facilities, sometimes together with adults. Furthermore, children are detained for national security, armed conflict or migration-related reasons. They are denied family care and access to justice, often unable to challenge the legality of their detention. These children are exposed to further human rights violations, enduring cruel, inhumane and/or degrading conditions. Furthermore, they are often denied the right to education, and health care, and do not benefit from tailored and long-term rehabilitation and reintegration support. Deprivation of liberty has a destructive impact on children’s physical and mental development, and often compounds trauma they have suffered.

The UN Task Force believes that the presentation of the report creates a unique momentum to learn from children and Member States’ experiences. The UN Task Force member organizations express their strong commitment to work together with Member States, civil society and children themselves to end children’s deprivation of liberty and safeguard their rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards, and further re-affirmed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The UN Inter-Agency Task Force on the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty was established as a platform to provide UN system-wide support to the study development and comprises the following member organizations: Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children ( Chair) (SRSG-VAC); Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC); Committee on the Rights of the Child; Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); International Office for Migration (IOM); and World Health Organization (WHO).

The Independent Expert submitted his final report on the Study (A/74/136) to the General Assembly during its seventy-fourth session and presents his main findings, conclusions and recommendations to the Third Committee of the General Assembly on 8 October 2019.
[Excerpt p.7-8]
B. Views of children
23. Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that children shall have the right to express their views freely in all matters affecting them and that their views shall be given due weight. During his fact -finding missions in all world regions, as a former United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Independent Expert spoke to many children and witnessed their immense suffering in all situations of deprivation of liberty. The study is also informed by the testimonies of children during regional consultations and by the findings of a cross -national consultation, facilitated by an international group of child rights experts which, in partnership with non-governmental organizations, carried out face to face interviews with 274 children.

24. The consultation process identified the importance of hearing directly from children about their lived experiences. They reported that their rights were not protected, including being detained in poor conditions, being denied access to information, with poor health care and inadequate access to education and leisure. Many children also experienced barriers to contact with their families and struggled to access support for reintegration. They reported struggling to be heard in decisions made about them. The findings show how children deprived of their liberty experience fear, isolation, trauma and harm in addition to discrimination, stigma and disempowerment.

25. Children also shared experiences of resilience and hope and highlighted the importance of friendships with peers and adults whom they could trust and who were working in their best interests. Many children had positive aspirations for a future beyond detention, where they would reunite with their families and friends and enjoy a life as independent human beings contributing to their communities. They saw education and skills development as integral to their achieving a better life…