States must step up to support the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

On 7 March, Defence for Children International, on behalf of the NGO Panel for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, delivered a statement during the Interactive Dialogue with Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children and for Children and Armed Conflict, at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council.

Please find the statement hereunder:

Mr. President,

We welcome the reports of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict and the SRSG on Violence Against Children.

We share the concerns expressed by both Special Representatives on the persisting and detrimental practice of depriving children of their liberty and thank Ms. Zerrougui for dedicating substantial parts of her report and work to the deprivation of liberty of children as an emerging aspect of counter-terrorism strategies. We also like to thank Ms. Santos-Pais for her guidance during the initial phase of the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.

The NGO Panel first launched the campaign calling for a Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty in March 2014 which led to the successful request to commission the Study in December 2014 (A/RES/69/157 para52.d). It has taken almost two years for an Independent Expert to be appointed and we want to seize the opportunity to congratulate Manfred Nowak on his appointment to lead the Study.  The NGO Panel, comprising 120 NGOs all over the world, pledges its full support to him in the exercise of his mandate, to make sure the Study is implemented in a collaborative and participatory approach, including all actors: UN agencies, Member States, civil society organizations, academia and children.

We wish to recall that the Study aims at collecting comprehensive, qualitative and quantitative data as well as sound evidence from across regions on the number and situation of children in detention. More importantly, based on this data and based on the collected best practices, recommendations for States will be developed on alternative, non-custodial measures. The Study hence amounts to a unique tool for Member States to facilitate the implementation of their obligations under international law, particularly those enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Despite these important outcomes and the crucial changes that the Study can bring about for children deprived of liberty across all regions, to date it has received barely any financial or tangible support from UN Member States. In the face of the utter lack of support, the NGO Panel is deeply concerned about the actual capacity to implement the Study.

We therefore call upon all Member States to live up to pledge that they made by unanimously adopting the Resolution requesting the commission of this Study. We urge Member States as well as UN agencies to provide necessary funding for this important and much needed Study in order to make sure that it does not turn into a failed opportunity to address the situation of children deprived of liberty in all its forms.

Statement delivered by Defence for Children International (DCI) on behalf of the Core Group of the NGO Panel for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty: Defence for Children International (DCI), International Detention Coalition (IDC), International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO), International Catholic Child Bureau (ICCB/BICE), World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Penal Reform International (PRI), Child Rights International Network (CRIN), Terre des Hommes International Federation

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