New York: With the 2021 World Congress on Justice with Children approaching, UNICEF released new data about children held in detention globally, and call for juvenile justice reform to end detention of all children

Issue at hand

  • Globally an estimated 261,000 children are held in detention (actual number warned to be much higher)
  • Justice systems are ill-equipped to handle needs of children
    • Children often held in confined and overcrowded spaces, lacking adequate access to nutrition, healthcare an hygiene services
    • Children are vulnerable to neglect, physical and psychological abuse and gender-based violence
    • Vulnerability exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with children being detained for violating curfew orders and movement restrictions

Children in detention

Developments

  • April 2020: UNICEF drew attention to children in detention being at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and called for children’s immediate release
  • By November 2021: More than 45,000 children released from detention and safely returned home/to a carer in 84 countries

UNICEF calls on governments and civil society to

  • Invest in legal rights awareness for children in justice and welfare systems, especially for the most marginalized children
  • Expand free legal aid, representation, and services for all children
  • Prioritise prevention and early intervention in child offending and diversion to appropriate alternatives
  • End the detention of children, including through legal reforms to raise the age of criminal responsibility
  • Ensure justice for child survivors of sexual violence, abuse or exploitation, including investing in child and gender-sensitive justice processes
  • Establish specialised child-friendly courts, and virtual and mobile courts

 

 

Childhub

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