Founded in 1991
Fields of Intervention:
DCI-Belgium was created in Belgium in order to promote and defend children’s rights. Therefore, several actions are undertaken in the following priority issues:
- Migrant children
- Juvenile Justice
- Child participation
- The right to education
Current Activities and Projects/Programmes:
In recent years, DCI-Belgium has carried out inter alia the following projects:
- Manifesto Against the Popularisation of Confinemrnt of Children in Belgium (Group «Article 40»)
In the last few years, we have noticed an increasing number of youth in detention. Despite the fact that Belgian law says that judges must prioritise measures that don’t deprive the youth of their liberty, the number of children in closed centers is increasing and many people hope this number keeps rising.
To fight this trend that has been surprisingly approved by a large majority of the public, and to reverse the negative image of youth conveyed by the press, various field actors wrote a “manifesto against the popularisation of confinement”. This group was named “article 40”, in reference to the article of the Convention of the Rights of the Child that protects youth against every form of arbitrary confinement and guarantees the rights of youth in the justice system. The goal of this project is to fight against the popularisation of confining youth and to promote policies that strive to use confinement as the last resort.
This project reacts to all prejudice towards youth delinquency by diffusing objective information. “Article 40” will proceed to gather data on confinement and youth delinquency and analyse this information. Current academic research on this issue will be gathered, summarised, and the conclusions will be presented. The results of the study will be distributed to political authorities, juvenile justice actors and actors directly helping the youth. In addition, it will be sent to the press to raise further awareness on the issue.
- «Children’s Rights Behind Bars»: A European Project Improving Monitoring Mechanisms
Everywhere in Europe, children are placed in closed centers, prisons (sometimes mixed with adults), or other places where they are deprived of liberty. Many international standards apply to children deprived of liberty (article 37 of the International Convention on the Right of the Child, the Rule of the UN for the protection of minors deprived of liberty, Rules of Havana, “Minima Rules” of the UN for the elaboration of non-custodial measures, Rules of Tokyo, etc.).
Many agencies are in charge of monitoring detention conditions and the respect of the rights of detained children. This is the role of the Under-Committee of the United Nations for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) at the international level, of the Committee of Prevention of Torture from the European Council (CPT) at the European level; and of the ombudsmen for children at the national level.
Contrary to what already exists for adults, there are no guidelines to assist these bodies in their mission to visit and monitor places of detention of minors. Because of their vulnerability, they have very specific needs and rights.
DCI-Belgium hopes to answer this gap and has decided to take control of a European project, funded by the European Commission, gathering partners from 14 other countries and a dozen international experts, to evaluate the monitoring systems of detention of minors and the complaint mechanisms for children deprived of liberty in Europe. This project favours cooperation between the different mechanisms of control and surveillance and furnishes the necessary tools to accomplish their mission in the best way possible. DCI-Belgium will write a practical guide intended to professionals visiting closed centers for minors. For more information, please visit the project’s website.
- Realisation of a Practical Guide Entitled «Defence for Children’s Rights in Europe»
This practical guide was created after realizing that street social workers are very often direct witnesses of children’s rights violations. However, they are not always aware of these rights or even of the existing mechanisms at the national, regional, and international level to respond adequately when facing these violations.
This guide, written in collaboration with Dynamo International, the European platform of street social workers, addresses social workers and, more generally, all professionals in contact with children. It tries to overcome the lack of information presenting the different legal standards that exist at the regional and international level. The guide describes the underlying principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and explains the existing mechanisms to react to when these rights are not respected. A more practical part of this guide explains specifically how social workers can activate these mechanisms and bring the facts they have witnessed to the attention of international bodies.
- Summer University 2012 – The Children’s Rights Caravan
DCI-Belgium, in collaboration with the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE – Switzerland), Dynamo International (Belgium), the University Institute Kurt Bösch (IUKB – Switzerland), and the Ministry of Family and Integration of the Grand Duchy (Luxembourg) organised a Summer University initiative on children’s rights. The initiative was conceived as a study trip entitled «The Caravan for the Rights of the Child». For a week, the Caravan traveled around Europe stopping in several cities (Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Sion, and Geneva) to learn about the inter-State institutions of the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations. Moreover, the trip was characterised by several meetings with prominent personalities in the field that work specifically on the implementation of children’s rights in Europe. Accompanied by reputable NGOs and academic specialists on children’s rights, participants analysed the existing links that could be strengthened between these institutions (European and UN) and grassroots associations working in the domain of children’s rights.
The Caravan had the following objectives:
- Raising awareness of participants about a general culture on children’s rights;
- Meeting key persons at the heart of European and UN institutions that shape the policies on children’s rights;
- Analysing the multiple implications of international and European instruments regarding children’s rights on professional practices;
- Finding out about and understanding the way in which children’s rights are guaranteed and implemented by the European and international mechanisms – in order to compare theory and practice through different pedagogical approaches.
Following legal action taken by DCI-Belgium against the Belgian state, the Council of Europe’s European Committee of Social Rights condemned Belgium for violating the rights of migrant children. They were found to not benefit from the full respect of their right to healthcare, school, and daycare. After that decision, Belgium had to find suitable hosts for every migrant child entering Belgian territory.
- Practical Guide on the Defence of Children’s Rights in Europe
With the proliferation of international texts concerning children’s rights, it is sometimes difficult to maintain an overview. What are the rights each child is entitled to? How can you react to the violation of one of those rights? Are there international mechanisms that can sanction such violations?
Dynamo International and DCI-Belgium created a guide to answer all these questions. It is addressed to each person in contact with children, especially street workers that witness such violations directly.