Over 160 governments attended the 2nd UN General Assembly High-Level Dialogue (HLD) on International Migration and Development in New York, October 3 – 4.

During the dialogue, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated unequivocally “We need to create more channels for safe and orderly migration, and to seek alternatives to the administrative detention of migrants.”

This was followed by similar calls from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, François Crépeau, and a number of government Missions and members of civil society, including Michelle Levoy, Director of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM).

Presenting to the floor, Michelle Levoy, Director of PICUM outlined the critical issues facing migrant women and children and linking it to practical ways forward. They highlighted the issue of children affected by detention and the need to end this, linking it to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recommendation:

“Children should not be criminalised or subject to punitive measures because of their or their parents’ migration status. The detention of a child because of their or their parents’ migration status constitutes a child rights violation and always contravenes the principle of the best interests of the child.

“States should expeditiously and completely cease the detention of children and their parents on the basis of their immigration status . . . [and] adopt alternatives to detention that fulfill the best interests of the child and allow children to remain with their family members and/or guardians in non-custodial, community-based contexts while their immigration status is being resolved”.

Committee on the Rights of the Child Report Of The 2012 Day Of General Discussion: The Rights Of All Children In The Context Of International Migration

The criminalisation of migrants and the use of immigration detention were key points of discussion at this 2nd HLD.  Immigration detention was generally noted by participants to have a high financial and human cost, particularly its impact on the health and wellbeing of children. Among other things, it was noted widely that the associated risks of physical and sexual abuse and lasting psychological damage means that it can never be in the best interests of a child to detain them simply for migration-related purposes.

IDC’s intervention for the HLD is available here: IDC_Draft Intervention Roundtable 2

IDC’s extended intervention is available here: IDC_Intervention Roundtable 2_long version

Find an open letter to the ministers present at the HLD from Human Rights Watch here

Find IDC’s press release on the event End_immigration_detention_children_presser_031013