UNGENEVA (2-27 March 2015) – Ending immigration detention of children has again been on the agenda during the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council being held in Geneva, Switzerland from March 2 – 27.

The UN Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.

On 9 March, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, released a groundbreaking thematic report on “Children Deprived of Liberty” (A/HRC/28/68) finding that the immigration detention of children is not only a violation of child rights, but also rises to the level of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” in violation of the international prohibition on torture. Read more.

On 10 March, Defence for Children International organised a side-event on “Children Deprived of Liberty, a Global Perspective”, and shared information on the situation of children in detention worldwide in light of the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty (A/RES/69/157). A webcast of the side-event is available here. The panelists included:

  • Mr. Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
  • Ms. Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict;
  • Ms. Marta Santos Pais, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Violence against Children;
  • Ms. Carolina Barbara, World Organization against Torture – OMCT; and
  • Mr. Benoit van Keirsbilck, Defence for Children International, DCI.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, was also following up on her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council, which was submitted on 29 December 2014. Among other things, her report highlighted that alternatives to the detention of children can improve child protection and are a critical tool for states to avoid child detention. Read more.

On 11 March, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Argentina organized a publication launch of “The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Migrants in an Irregular Situation“, an important new publication which details the legal, policy and practical barriers irregular migrants face in the enjoyment of their rights, as well as trends and national policies. By examining the minimum human rights standards and promising practices, the publication provides key messages to support States and other stakeholders in ensuring irregular migrants can exercise their rights.

The launch event was moderated by H.E. Alberto P. D’Alotto, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Argentina and included opening remarks from Ms. Jane Connors, Director, Research and Right to Development Division, OHCHR.  The panelists included:

  • Mr. Giuseppe Palmisano, President of the European Committee of Social Rights;
  • Dr. Petra Tiarks-Jungk, City of Frankfurt Department of Health;
  • Dr. Yves-Laurent Jackson, University Hospital Geneva;
  • Ms. Naïma Benwakrim, Director of Protection, National Human Rights Council of the Kingdom of Morocco;
  • Ms. Nadia Nguyen Quang, Member of Réseau Education Sans Frontières;
  • Mr. Bruce Porter, Executive Director, Social Rights Advocacy Centre Canada