The UN General Assembly, in its resolution 69/157, invited the SG to commission an in-depth global study on children deprived of liberty. The preparatory work for the study, now in its early stages of development, is led by the Office of the SRSG on Violence Against Children, Marta Santos Pais. Ms Santos Pais invited representatives from civil society and research institutions to a meeting in New York on December 4 2015 to introduce the Global Study, discussing its scope, stakeholders, expected results and founding resources, and how these institutions can contribute to it. The IJJO was represented by its Director of International Affairs, Cédric Foussard.
As stressed by the General Assembly in its resolution, the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty will shed light on the “scale and conditions of children deprived of liberty, will identify good practices and make recommendations for action”. In this regard, the study will help countries to better understand this phenomenon and to strengthen safeguards for the rights of children concerned. This entails helping to prevent deprivation of liberty and ensuring it is a measure of last resort that is used for the shortest period of time possible.
The study will tackle the assessment of detention conditions and mechanisms for inspection and oversight, and the independent monitoring of detention centers to enable children both to have access to justice and to make use of complaint and reporting mechanisms.
In order to ensure a comprehensive and broad scope, deprivation of liberty will be studied in different forms and contexts, including: children in contact with the law; detention in the context of migration/asylum/refugees; mental health or drug use; protection purposes; and armed conflicts.
The Global Study will be conducted in close cooperation with relevant United Nations agencies and offices, including UNODC, OHCHR, UNICEF, the Office of the SRSG-CAAC and the Office of the SRSG-VAC; and in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including Member States, civil society, academia and children.
In this regard, SRSG Santos Pais stressed the importance of promoting the preparation of the Global Study through a participatory and inclusive process, in which support and insights from civil society and academia will be indispensable. The discussion highlighted a wide range of possible contributions: hosting thematic discussions, conducting consultations, undertaking research in strategic areas, supporting field missions, etc. The IJJO, as one of these institutions, is a member of the NGO Panel for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, which works on these areas to support and contribute to the Study.
During the meeting the need for the Study to promote a regional focus and highlight specific concerns in different regions was also discussed. In this regard, Cédric Foussard introduced the work undertaken by the IJJO’s Continental Councils for Juvenile Justice, which work as think tanks, gathering experts’ efforts in order to address the main issues that juvenile justice systems face in different regions of the world. Mr Foussard was joined by Elizabeth Clarke, President of the Juvenile Justice Initiative and member of the North American Council for Juvenile Justice, who presented the recent activities of the Council in this region.