More than 7 million children are suffering in various types of child-specific institutions, immigration detention centres, police custody, prisons and other places of detention.
It is a reality that stands in direct contrast to the requirement of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which clearly states that the detention of children must only be used as a measure of last resort. This means that children should in principle not be detained and States should always look first for non-custodial solutions. While some progress has indeed been made in recent years, the Study highlights a dire need to do much more in terms of deinstitutionalisation, diversion, ending migration-related detention and other measures in order to comply with the Convention.
It is evident from the views expressed by children in the Study that for them deprivation of liberty essentially means deprivation of their childhood. From this perspective, the Global Study argues that depriving children of their liberty is a form of structural violence, which States actually committed to eliminate under SDG 16.2. Since every child has the right to grow up in a family environment surrounded by love and care, it is the responsibility of States to invest more resources to support families and child welfare systems.
Ultimately, children deprived of liberty are invisible to the large majority of society and their fate constitutes the most overlooked violation of the Convention. As an initial step, this Global Study thus aims to help ensure that no child is left behind, and in particular, that no child is left behind bars.
Please find the full study as PDF-Download below.