International Coalition on the Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants

Media Release


Universal Children’s Day November 20th, 2008


Countries must stop the detention of children

On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day 2008, the International Coalition on the Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants (IDC) calls upon States to stop the detention of migrant and refugee children.

In a recent survey of 21 countries on detention issues, the IDC found that there is an increase globally in the use of migration-related detention, with many countries continuing to detain migrant and refugee children. Reports included children being detained in closed refugee camps, alongside convicted criminals in jails or in immigration detention centers where they may be vulnerable to sexual abuse and lack adequate medical care and education.

The survey listed concerns for children in detention in Belgium, Egypt, Kenya, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa, UK and USA. 

IDC Director Grant Mitchell said a separate recent IDC research paper joined a growing body of international research which documents the considerable psychological harm and even impaired cognitive development, which children who have been detained may experience.

“The detention of refugee and migrant children, as practiced in many countries, is in breach of International Law, namely the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which stipulates that detention of children should only be used as a ‘last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” Mr Mitchell said.

 “Children should not be detained. There is overwhelming evidence internationally that children are particularly vulnerable to physical and psychological harm in detention facilities. We urge countries to comply with international Human Rights standards and follow the example of countries like Australia, and stop the detention of children and their caregivers and implement alternatives to detention.»

 The detention of children received particular attention amongst the more than 200 civil society groups who attended the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Manila two weeks ago. Civil society, in a formal statement to the 163 UN-member States participating in the forum, urged States to impose a “moratorium on the detention and deportation of child migrants” and to consider detention alternatives.

For more details contact IDC Director Grant Mitchell on +61 3 92899303 or +61 403194665

Notes to editors?

The IDC is a coalition of over 150 non-governmental groups and individuals working in over 50 countries the world providing legal, social and other services, carrying out research and reporting, and doing advocacy and policy work on behalf of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers who have come together to share information and to promote greater respect for the human rights of detainees. The IDC advocates limiting the use of, seeking alternatives to, and using the least restrictive forms of, immigration detention.?The steering committee of the IDC brings together a number of leading international NGOs which share concerns about the treatment of immigration detainees, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Jesuit Refugee Service, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, World Council of Churches, and a number of national NGOs.

·       The full GFMD Civil Society Statement to States can be found at:

·       The survey can be found at:  


Email: [email protected]