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JUNE/ JULY 2018: Deprivation of Liberty at the 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council’s (HRC) 38th session took place from June 18 to July 6, 2018 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Health on Deprivation of Liberty

On June 18, 2018, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Mr. Dainius Puras, presented his thematic report on the right to health in the context of confinement and deprivation of liberty, which included a focus on children deprived of liberty. He regretted that, in the 21st century, uncountable millions of children continue to be detained or awaiting trial, highlighting the negative impact that deprivation of liberty has on the right to physical, psychological, mental, and emotional health on children as well as poor sanitation, lack of fresh air and safe drinking water, and physical and sexual abuse by staff and peers. The Special Rapporteur called for the abolition of detention of children, stating that children should only be deprived of their liberty in very exceptional situations. Alternatives to detention, investing in families at risk, helping children to have good skills to live in the community, and involving adolescents in preventive programmes, were some his recommendations. Read a shortened version of his findings here.

Defence for Children International (DCI) , on behalf of the NGO Panel for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, delivered a statement during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur . The NGO Panel welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report and called on Member States and observers to engage with the Study, including by answering the questionnaire. The International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE) also delivered a statement welcoming the Special Rapporteur’s reference about the adverse conditions that affect physical and mental health on children deprived of liberty or confined and calling for engagement with the Global Study.

Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Highlights Dangers of Deprivation of Liberty

On June 19, Mr. Felipe González Morales, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, presented his report on the return and reintegration of migrants. He noted that, under international human rights law, children should never be detained for immigration purposes, nor can detention be justified as being in a child’s best interests. He stated that alternatives to deprivation of liberty must be found, including family-based solutions. Furthermore, he expressed concern about children being separated from their families, especially considering that migrant children in many countries were not being provided with the basic services they needed. During the interactive dialogue with Mr. González Morales, Austria highlighted the lack of information around detention of children including numbers, location, and conditions of detention, and called upon governments to engage with the Global Study, including by answering the official questionnaire and providing relevant quantitative and qualitative data. Expressing similar concerns, UNICEF and several non-governmental organisations, including VIDES and Human Rights Law Centre showed concern regarding the growing number of children being detained, deported, and separated from their families. ECPAT International urged member States to support the Global Study, including by providing disaggregated data on boys and girls in detention.

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