NEW YORK (20 November 2014) – Twenty-five years ago the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted, and with it the world made a promise to children: to uphold their fundamental rights, to promote their human dignity, and to safeguard their best interests in all actions. Today, the CRC remains the most widely and rapidly ratified international human rights treaty in history. Only three countries, Somalia, South Sudan and the United States, have not ratified this celebrated agreement.

Despite this near-universal commitment, countless millions of children continue to be impacted every year by illegal, arbitrary and harmful immigration detention. Whether detained themselves or impacted by the detention of their parents or guardians, migrant children experience significant harm as a result of immigration detention practices. Regardless of the reasons for detention or the conditions in which children are held, a number of studies have shown that detention has a profound and negative impact on child health and development. Even very short periods of detention can undermine child psychological and physical well-being and compromise their cognitive development. Reports on the effects of immigration detention on children have found excessive rates of suicide, suicide attempts, self-harm, mental disorder and developmental problems.

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the CRC, the Global Campaign to End Child Immigration Detention and hundreds of member and partner organisations worldwide, are calling upon states to end the practice of detaining migrant children simply for the lack of proper immigration documents. Instead, we call upon states to urgently implement non-custodial, community-based alternatives that comprehensively protect the rights of children.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has clearly stated that detention of children on the basis of their or their parents’ migration status is a child rights violation. In 2012, the Committee made a landmark recommendation that:


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


Worldwide, UN experts, child and human rights advocates, and governments are increasingly
recognizing that there is no justifiable reason for the immigration detention of children and families. Depriving a child of liberty on the basis of their or their parents’ migration status violates international law, but more importantly, it harms migrant children and families.

Today, in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we call upon states to protect the rights of migrant children in line with the recommendation of the Committee  on the Rights of the Child by “expeditiously and completely ceasing the immigration detention of children. Together we can end child immigration detention.

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