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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/4/19

U.N. Report Finds Over 7 Million Children Worldwide Are Being Held in Various Kinds of Detention

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A damning United Nations report says that 7 million children are deprived of their liberty worldwide, from children imprisoned on the U.S.-Mexico border to the missing children of ISIS fighters. The Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty says that at least 410,000 of those children are detained in jails and prisons, where violence is "endemic." The study also found that the number of children detained in the context of armed conflict has dramatically risen.

The global study was published in November, on the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the landmark international treaty affirming the world's commitment to protecting children. It is the most ratified U.N. Treaty in history the United States is one of the only countries that hasn't ratified the convention. We're joined by Manfred Nowak, lead author of the U.N. Global Study on Children Deprived of liberty. Nowak is also a human rights lawyer and U.N. independent expert. He served as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture from 2004 to 2010.

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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman. We are broadcasting from Stockholm, Sweden, as we end today's show with a damning U.N. report that says seven million children worldwide are deprived of their liberty, from children detained on the U.S.-Mexico border to the missing children of ISIS fighters.

The Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty reports that millions of children are living in various states of detention across the globe, from orphanages and foster homes to police custody and immigration detention. Among them, at least 410,000 are detained in jails and prisons, where violence is, quote, "endemic." The study also found the number of children detained in the context of armed conflict dramatically has risen.

The global study was published in November on the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the landmark international treaty affirming the world's commitment to protecting children. It is the most ratified U.N. treaty in history. The United States is the only country that has not ratified the convention.

We are joined now by the lead author of the U.N. report on children, Manfred Nowak. He is an Austrian human rights lawyer, serves as the secretary general of the Global Campus of Human Rights based in Venice, Italy, and he's also the former U.N. special rapporteur on torture. We welcome you to Democracy Now! It's great to have you with us, Manfred. If you can summarize the results of this devastating report?

MANFRED NOWAK: As you said already, it's more than seven million children that are deprived of liberty, most of them in all kind of institutions but also in the administration of justice and migration detention. And every of this child is too much, because the Convention on the Rights of the Child is very clear. It says deprivation of liberty of children shall only be allowed as a measure of last resort. So it means that we have to do much more, states primarily have to do much more, in order to reduce those children by means of diversion, by stopping migration detention, because it is never a measure of last resort. It always violates the Convention. But also to establish children courts to apply diversion measures. Because we need much more resources to support families, foster families but also child welfare systems. They should take these children even if they are in conflict with the law.

AMY GOODMAN: You talked about detention and how that violates international treaties on the Convention of the Child. The U.S. -- let's start there -- is the only country in the world that has not ratified this Convention?

MANFRED NOWAK: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain the Convention.

MANFRED NOWAK: The Convention is now 30 years old. It entails all kind of rights, in particular. Also every decision that affects children should take into account the best interest of the child. Children should participate in every decision that is directly affecting them. There should be no discrimination against children. There should not be violence, whether sexual violence, et cetera, but also in principle, no deprivation of liberty. On the other hand, children should be supported in the right to education, healthcare, et cetera. It is very comprehensive treaty that really takes into account the most basic needs of children.

AMY GOODMAN: That the U.S. alone is not honoring.

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