Children Deprived of Liberty: Learning from the UN Global Study

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Overview

Children deprived of liberty are an often invisible and forgotten group who suffer from clear violations of human rights. Frequently placed in inhuman conditions and in adult facilities, they are at heightened risk of violence, rape and sexual assault, as well as torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Not only does such deprivation of liberty damage their physical and psychological development, it also destroys their capacities and opportunities to conduct healthy lives and constructively contribute to society.

Despite it being a known phenomenon, data on the number of these children, and on the reasons, length and places of their detention, are still largely lacking. In the same vein, information on good practices and alternative measures, as well as mechanisms for redress, is fragmented. This has important consequences: without a strong knowledge basis and a vigorous protection system, countless children throughout the world risk their human rights, and in some cases their lives, while societies miss out on the participation, ideas and talents that these young people could bring.

In this light, the UN Global Study commissioned to Prof. Manfred Nowak is an opportunity to raise awareness about the manifold challenges in this area and to:

  • Assess the magnitude of the occurrence of children deprived of liberty;
  • Document good practices and capture the views and experiences of these children;
  • Promote a change in stigmatizing attitudes and behaviour towards children at risk of being, or who are, deprived of liberty;
  • Provide recommendations for law, policy and practice to safeguard the human rights of the children concerned.

To amplify the impact of the Study, this MOOC will offer the opportunity to gain insights on the research, collection, analysis, and final elaboration of information related to specific areas and cross-cutting themes.

 

Syllabus

Module 1 focuses on the general framework of the Study and looks at the legal framework, applicable standards, guiding principles, definitions, objectives and methodology. It also offers an overview of the history of the Global Study and its links with the work of the UN CRC Committee and the Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children.

Module 2 deals with the cross-cutting themes that have been identified in the Study: deprivation of liberty, children’s participation, disability, gender and health.

Module 3 is dedicated to the six focus areas of the Study: administration of justice, children living in places of detention with their primary caregivers, migration-related detention, children deprived of liberty in institutions, in armed conflict and for national security reasons.

Module 4 reveals the ‘behind the scenes’ of the making of the UN Global Study in practice and discusses challenges, opportunities, recommendations and the way forward.