A thematic consultation on children in institutions was held in Pretoria, South Africa from July 26-27, 2018. It was hosted by the Centre for Child Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria together with UNICEF. The consultation gathered representatives from several international non-governmental organisations such as Defence for Children International (DCI), Hope and Homes, Lumos, Disability Rights International, SOS Children Villages International, the Better Care Network, the Center for Disability Law and Policy as well as UNICEF and the CELCIS Centre of the University of Strathclyde.
The consultation started with keynote speeches from Professor Manfred Nowak, the Independent Expert leading the Study; Johann van der Westhuizen, the Inspecting Judge of Prisons in South Africa and retired Justice of the South African Constitutional Court, also currently the Head of the Department of Jurisprudence in the Faculty of Law; and Professor Ann Skelton from Centre for Child Law of the University of Pretoria.
It featured rich discussions on key topics relevant to children deprived of their liberty in institutions, including definitional challenges, the causes and consequences of such practices and the specific situation of children with disabilities, migrant children, orphans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex children, and children with “behavioural” problems among others. The discussions from the consultation will feed into the Study and addressed the identification of interesting practices, the need for a de-institutionalisation process, and the recommendations that should be addressed to all stakeholders.