ENDING CHILD DETENTION
It will require vision and leadership from governments around the world to change the practice of detaining children on the basis of their migration status.
States should “expeditiously and completely cease the [immigration] detention of children” consistent with recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which also urged states to adopt alternatives to detention that allow children to remain with family members and/or guardians in non-custodial, community-based contexts while their immigration status is being resolved, consistent with their best interests, and with children’s rights to liberty and family life.
The good news is there are child-sensitive alternatives, which include measures that comprehensively protect the rights of children based upon their best interests.
Under international law, immigration detention must only ever be used as a last resort, and it is never an appropriate environment for children. As a result, states must first seek to implement alternatives which allow individuals at risk of immigration detention to live in non-custodial, community-based settings while their immigration status is being resolved. Alternatives are more effective, cheaper and respect human rights.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended:
To the greatest extent possible, and always using the least restrictive means necessary, States should adopt alternatives to detention that fulfil the best interests of the child, along with their rights to liberty and family life through legislation, policy and practices that allow children to remain with family members and/or guardians if they are present in the transit and/or destination countries and be accommodated as a family in non-custodial, community-based contexts while their immigration status is being resolved.
Find out more about alternatives to detention.
THE STATE PLEDGE
States who have explored, developed or implemented alternatives to the immigration detention of children will be asked to showcase their reform efforts and encourage others States to follow suit, following three incremental, actionable, and measurable steps drawing directly upon existing State obligations under the CRC.
In this way, the State Pledge does not seek to impose any additional obligations on State parties, but rather to provide an incremental and actionable roadmap for States to work collaboratively with UN partners and civil society to end the practice of child immigration detention in fulfilment of their CRC obligations. The Pledge will act as forum for encouraging and celebrating positive steps to eradicate the practice of child immigration detention; for sharing positive practices with regard to legislation and ATD implementation; and for indicating compliance with this aspect of the CRC. Find out more