The Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty covers deprivation of liberty in all its forms, following the definition laid down in the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty 1990 (Havana Rules):
“Deprivation of liberty means any form of detention or imprisonment or the placement of a person under the age of 18 in a public or private custodial setting, from which this person is not permitted to leave at will, by order of any judicial, administrative or other public authority”
The Study includes children deprived of liberty in the following contexts:
- Administration of justice
- Living in places of detention with their parents
- Armed conflict
- National security
5 research groups were established:
- Children deprived of liberty in the administration of justice – NGO focal point: Defence for Children International (DCI) (Helen Griffiths), Child Rights International Network (CRIN) (Leo Ratledge)
- Children living in places of detention with their parents – NGO focal point: Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) (Rachel Brett), Quakers (Laurel Townhead)
- Children deprived of liberty for migration-related reasons – NGO focal point: Human Rights Watch (HRW) (Michael Garcia Bochenek)
- Children deprived of liberty in institutions – NGO focal point: Lumos (Anna Darling), SOS Kindersdorf International
- Children deprived of liberty related to armed conflict and national security– NGO focal point: HRW (Jo Becker)
Cross-cutting issues of the impact of deprivation on liberty on children’s health, gender, disability, and child participation were included in the study.
The Advisory Board to the Study is as follows:
- Ann Skelton (South Africa) (Chair of the UN Global Study Advisory Board) – Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
- Malcom Evans (United Kingdom) (Vice-Chair of the UN Global Study Advisory Board) – Chair of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture
- Andrew Coyle (United Kingdom) – Adviser on Prison and Criminal justice matters to the OHCHR, UNODC and the UN Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Council of Europe (CPT)
- Barry Goldson (United Kingdom) – Professor of Criminology and Social Policy, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool
- Benyam Mezmur (Ethiopia) – Current Member and Former Chair, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
- Ben Lewis (United States) – Human Rights Officer, Migration and Human Rights (OHCHR)
- Catalina Devandas Aguilar (Costa Rica) – UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Dainius Puras (Lithuania) – Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health
- Hina Jilani (Pakistan) – Former Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders (2000 – 2008)
- Jean Zermatten (Switzerland) – Founder and Director of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child; Former Chair of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
- Juan Mendez (Argentina) – Professor of Law and Human Rights Activist; Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2008 – 2016)
- Leila Zerrougui (Algeria) – Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
- Mary Beloff (Argentina) – Children’s Rights and Criminal Law Expert, Faculty of Law, University of Buenos Aires
- Maud de Boer-Buquicchio (Netherlands) – UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
- Pablo Ceriani Cernadas (Argentina) – Vice Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrants
- Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden) – Former Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe (2006-2012); Former Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (1991-1997)
- Ton Liefaard (Netherlands) – Professor of Children’s Rights and holds the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at Leiden University, Leiden Law School
- Ursula Kilkelly (United Kingdom) – Dean, School of Law, University College Cork, Director of the Child Law Clinic
- Usang Maria Assim (South Africa) – Senior Researcher Children’s Rights Project, Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights, University of the Western Cape
- Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand) – UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (2016 –present). Former Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (1990 – 1994)
- Jo Becker (United States) – Advocacy director of the Children’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch (HRW)
- Benoit Van Keirsbilck (Belgium) – Director of Defence for Children International (DCI) – Belgium
The Global Study was carried out in close cooperation with governments, civil society organisations and various UN agencies, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights at the University of Vienna coordinated the research efforts. The views of individuals who have experienced deprivation of liberty as children also form a core part of the Study.
The following academic institutions also contributed to the Study: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, Austria, the Global Campus of Human Rights, Italy, Joint Research Centre/European Commission, Italy, Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Columbia University, United States of America, Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia, the National University of Ireland Galway, Republic of Ireland, and the University of Cyprus, Cyprus.
Given the goals, the Study included the following elements:
A review of relevant legal standards can be found here.
To document the numbers of children deprived of liberty, the study collected data, including disaggregated data on age, gender, vulnerable groups, and the reason/basis for detention (based on the above scope), through different methodologies:
- Global Study Questionnaire
In February 2018, the Independent Expert sent out the Questionnaire on the UN Global Study on Children deprived of Liberty to governments and other relevant stakeholders, including international monitoring bodies, UN agencies, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), National Preventive Mechanisms, and academia. The collection of the responses to the Questionnaire will be facilitated through an online database.
The Global Study questionnaire was primarily aimed at collecting and providing quantitative statistical data about the number of children deprived of liberty in the key focus areas of the Study. It focused on identifying examples of best practices and alternative approaches aimed at reducing the number of children deprived of liberty according to child rights principles, and provided copies of relevant laws, studies, policies, and reports.
You can find the questionnaire below in 13 different languages:
- Review of existing literature
The research process included the literature review of articles and academic reports; UN documentation, including relevant reports by UN special procedures, submissions and concluding observations from UN treaty bodies and relevant information from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR); information gathered from NHRIs/Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC); and a review of civil society contributions.
- Thematic and regional consultations
Deprivation of liberty can take on many different forms, with differing root causes, conditions, and impacts. Given the broad scope of the Study, a series of expert consultations on the following themes took place. These consultations incorporated an in-depth analysis on certain issues with a broad range of stakeholders, including State authorities, UN agencies, academia and civil society, fostering regional engagement.
- Study preparation and presentation
Analytical reports from the responses to the Questionnaire, commissioned papers and reports, desk research findings as well as results from thematic and regional consultations and consultations with children fed into the preparation of the Global Study report.
The Independent Expert, with support, prepared a consolidated draft of the Global Study, which was submitted to the UN Inter agency Task Force, Advisory Board and the NGO Panel for review.
In October 2019, the Independent Expert presented the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty to the UN General Assembly, followed by the launch of the accompanying Study publication.