Over the past two years, the International Detention Coalition (IDC) has heard first-hand the stories of children and parents from all over the world who have experienced or been impacted by immigration detention. One such story follows-
Dakarai was working on a farm in South Africa…He was arrested because he didn’t have the right papers. Adults and children were detained together... More than 300 people were there at the time. ‘Sometimes we were sleeping on the floor without blankets, we were staying there for a long time because they were telling us there was no transport to Zimbabwe to deport us. We stayed there for a whole month. The building was made from iron sheets and the food was also another problem, we only received one meal a day, just bread, sometimes with soup…there was nothing to do in the detention centre: no toys, ball or place to play…’ Dakarai became ill in detention so the authorities took him to hospital. After receiving some treatment, he was released, but had nowhere to go. He slept on the streets.
Dakari from Zimbabwe, detained in South Africa, aged 15
Consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in response to this research, the IDC has written a policy document which conveys the stories of these children who have been in immigration detention. Their experiences highlight the need for alternative approaches to managing the irregular migration of children.
The IDC has found the detention of children is a global practice, even if it is difficult to quantify. Children themselves speak of the hardship they endure in immigration detention, as highlighted in this document. Yet the goal of immigration control can be better achieved and with fewer detrimental effects by seeking not to detain children. This policy document concludes with a step-by-step guide on how to avoid detaining children. This involves recognising three core principles:
- Undocumented child migrants are, first and foremost, children;
- The best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in any action taken in relation to the child and the child’s family;
- The liberty of the child is a fundamental human right
At the same time as detention of children has been increasing, there has also been a move, in some countries and regions, away from detaining children. Some governments are seeking innovative ways in which to limit or prevent refugee, asylum seeker and irregular migrant children from being detained. This policy document details some of these good practice examples. It does so while describing a model for states to use to prevent child detention. The model, which we call the Child-Sensitive Community Assessment & Placement (CCAP) model, involves five steps:
Step 1. Prevention;
Step 2. Assessment & Referral;
Step 3. Management & Processing;
Step 4. Reviewing and Safeguarding;
Step 5. Case Resolution.
This model presents states with concrete means to manage immigration and their borders but also to implement legal, policy and practical measures to prevent the detention of children.
The IDC launched its policy document and the CCAP model in Geneva at the Human Rights Council on March 21, 2012.
Researching the experiences of children impacted by detention
In total 70 children were interviewed for the IDC’s research in Malta, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, the United States, El Salvador, Mexico, Israel, Egypt, Malaysia and Australia. The children had travelled from Afghanistan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala. We also listened to the experiences of 16 parents of children who had been detained.
Implementing the Child-Sensitive CAP Model
Governments, in partnership with civil society can work together to implement Child-Sensitive CAP and its five steps. The IDC can provide support and make connections on a national, regional and international level.
Get the policy document on CCAP
Captured Childhood Spanish Version
View IDC 5 step Child Sensitive Community Assessment & Placement (CCAP) model
View or download the Policy Document Executive Summary
View IDC Policy Document Recommendations
View resources and tools related to CCAP
Visit the End Child Detention campaign website