In 2019 the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty drew the world’s attention to an appalling reality: more than seven million children worldwide are deprived of liberty every year. Still a conservative estimate, this figure stands in direct contrast to the requirement of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which clearly states that the detention of children shall be used only as a measure of last resort — that is, only in exceptional circumstances, on a case-by-case basis, if non-custodial solutions are not available or appropriate.
Although some progress has already been achieved in recent years, and some promising practices bode well for the future, much more needs to be done. Whether we look at unaccompanied children detained in migration centres or children being charged in the context of counter-terrorism or held prisoners as child soldiers in the context of armed conflict, their numbers and their living conditions are still unacceptable under the standards set out in the CRC. Moreover, they unfortunately share a similar fate with millions of other children. Indeed, in addition to the cases in the administration of justice, deprivation of liberty still occurs also for children living with imprisoned caregivers or in institutions of all kinds, including institutions for children with disabilities.
The UN Global Study has not only provided an assessment on the standing of children’s deprivation of liberty in such a range of contexts, but also – very importantly – set out clear recommendations for change. This roadmap is an inspiration for new laws, policies, and practices that can help States dramatically reduce the number of children behind bars and locked doors. Keeping the conversation going and monitoring the enactment of the recommendations is key to ensure that children worldwide are no longer deprived of their childhood.
This MOOC is a complement to a previous Global Campus course on the Global Study and aims at providing updated information on situations, challenges and possible solutions as they are being envisaged in each region of the world. Hearing from experts, researchers, and children themselves, participants will learn about steps being taken in terms of deinstitutionalisation, diversion, ending migration-related detention and other measures.