Children Deprived of Liberty

Deprivation of liberty is a cross-cutting issue and is applicable to all of our thematic priorities: justice for children, violence against children, children on the move and children affected by armed conflict. Deprivation of liberty is, and has historically been, DCI’s overarching area of expertise. At the international level, DCI’s activities in this area include the drafting of the United Nations Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (1985), and the follow-up to the UNCRC’s General Comment No. 10 on Juvenile Justice (2007). Since 2013, DCI has led civil society efforts to raise awareness of the need for urgent attention to children deprived of their liberty, including through advocacy at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. DCI was at the forefront of the call for the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty – now underway – and now co-convenes the NGO Panel supporting the Study. We are strongly involved in research and advocacy efforts for the Study, which will be delivered to the UN General Assembly in October 2019 by Professor Manfred Nowak, the Independent Expert leading the Study. In 2018, DCI co-organised the regional consultation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as well as participated and supported other efforts in Paris, France and Pretoria, South Africa.

DCI National Sections also conduct a lot of work for and with children deprived of liberty across the globe, including the provision of direct legal services.

Some examples of our National Sections’ work encompass the project “Children Behind Bars 2.0,” in which DCI-Belgium and DCI-Italy, alongside other governmental stakeholders and human rights organisations, aim to advance the protection of children deprived of their liberty by improving detention conditions, particularly through constant monitoring and training of justice professionals. In 2017, the project worked with 200 justice professionals and 30 children deprived of liberty.

DCI-Belgium, DCI-Italy and DCI-Netherlands are working together to protect the rights of children deprived of their liberty through the project “My Lawyer, My Rights.” This project advocates for the proper implementation and effective monitoring of European directives on the right of the access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings; on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings; on the right to interpretation and translation; and on the right to information. In 2017, the role of the lawyer for children in the EU member states and their juvenile justice systems was mapped, and an online data base was created to enable easy access to this information. Throughout the year around 500 youth lawyers, officials and policy makers were trained via this project.

Global Study

“Children who are deprived of liberty fall into a statistical vacuum, with numbers of these children potentially ranging anywhere from the tens of thousands to the millions” – Jan Eliasson, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General