Despite progress in the realization of children’s rights, as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, too many commitments remain unfulfilled. This is particularly true for children deprived of liberty, who often remain invisible and forgotten. Most countries lack data on the number of children deprived of liberty and on the reasons, length and places of detention. Detention of children may be decided by judicial, administrative or other bodies, including the police, military authorities, immigration officials, child protection or welfare bodies, health professionals and non-State actors, including in situations of armed conflict.
In the absence of robust child protection systems, countless numbers of children throughout the world are deprived of liberty for their alleged care and protection. Popular fear and misconceptions, often fuelled by the media, have led to harsh approaches towards children in contact with the law. As a result, more children continue to be deprived of liberty, too often and at too early an age. The personal and societal costs of deprivation of liberty are immensurable. Not only does it inhibit the child’s development and ability to live a healthy and constructive life, but it also incurs a financial drain on national budgets.
To address this pressing situation, the United Nations General Assembly, by resolution 69/157, invited the Secretary-General to commission an in-depth global study on children deprived of liberty. The global study will include good practices and recommendations for action to effectively realize all relevant rights of the child. The global study will be conducted in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, including Member States, United Nations offices, agencies and bodies, national human rights institutions, civil society, academia and children. It will be supported by voluntary contributions and a funding appeal has already been issued to mobilize support to its development.
The Secretary-General reiterates the importance of this study and calls on all Member States and other stakeholders to lend their full support to his important endeavour. A United Nations task force has been mobilized to support the global study within the United Nations system and includes the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and for Children and Armed Conflict, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. In addition, an advisory board consisting of leading experts from different regions has been established to contribute to the study process.
The Secretary-General welcomes the recommendation of the United Nations Task Force to entrust the commissioning of the global study to Manfred Nowak of Austria. Mr. Nowak is a professor of international law and human rights at the University of Vienna and the Secretary-General of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice. He was previously the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and a member of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
For further information on the global study, please contact: Imma Guerras, Adviser on Child Rights, Secretariat on the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, at tel.: 41 22 928 9249, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Sanna Käki, Child Protection Specialist, Office of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children, New York, at tel.: 1 917 367 6131, e-mail: email@example.com.