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CRC General Comment No.17 & Children in Detention

Photo: Maria Tomasi
This year, during its sixty-second session, the Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted its General Comment No. 17 on the Right of the Child to rest, leisure, play, recreational activities, cultural life and the arts (Article 31 UNCRC).
There are of course certain groups of children which require particular attention in the realizing of the rights under article 31. In particular, and of concern to DCI, children in detention centres are often limited or completely denied opportunities for play, recreation and participation in cultural and artistic life. Notwithstanding deprivation of liberty is to be a measure of last resort (article 37.b UNCRC), the restriction on the right to liberty does not mean restriction to enjoy other human rights. Not only should every child deprived of liberty “be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age (…)” (Article 3.c UNCRC),  but the aim should always be to promote the child’s sense of dignity and worth and reinforce the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others, taking into account the child’s age and desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society (Article 40 UNCRC).
Furthermore, when considering the right to play and children in detention, certain unique groups are to be considered, such as: infants and young children who are in prison with their mothers (this practice exists in many countries worldwide); and immigration detention (as highlighted in the work of the UNHCR: