Areas of Work

Children of Prisoners

Children are deeply affected when a parent is imprisoned. Yet millions of affected children worldwide are overlooked at every stage of the criminal justice process, and there are no international standards on how countries should act to protect their rights and welfare.

Children can face stigma from friends and others in the community. They can experience difficulties in maintaining contact with incarcerated parents, and face financial hardship. Practice around the world varies considerably, and there is much potentially good practice, such as police officers who conduct arrests in child-friendly ways, judges who consider the impact of potential sentences on children, prison administrations that organise child-friendly visiting arrangements and schools or NGOs that support the child on the outside.

QUNO has published groundbreaking research on this issue since 2005, highlighting practices worldwide relating to children living in prison with a parent, as well as to children who remain outside during parental incarceration, and more recently on issues relating to children of parents facing the death penalty. QUNO was also a partner in the COPING Project, a three-year investigation looking at the mental health of children of prisoners.

Developing out of this research, QUNO has also pioneered work that highlights issues affecting the children of parents sentenced to death or executed. These children are the hidden victims of the death penalty, often experiencing the sentencing or execution of their father or mother as severe psychological and emotional trauma. These devastating consequences of the death penalty tend to receive little attention in criminal justice systems and the children are often left unsupported. We have published several significant pieces of research on this topic and continue to raise the issue at the international level.

Ongoing Activities

  • Developing awareness, at national and international levels, of the rights and well-being of children whose parents are in detention and of children whose parents have been sentenced to death or executed.
  • Working with the UN human rights mechanisms and treaty bodies, especially the Committee on the Rights of the Child, to further acknowledge the rights of these children and to promote good practice.
  • Disseminating the findings and recommendations of the COPING project research.
  • Convening a Child Rights Connect working group of partner organisations working on children of incarcerated parents around the world and maintaining this working group’s database of relevant Committee on the Rights of concluding observations 
  • Working with partner organisations to provide information about children detained in prison with a parent into the UN’s global study on children deprived of their liberty.

 

Recent Timeline Events

December 2016

Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

QUNO is closely following and inputting information into a Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty.

The Study will shed light on the scale and conditions of children deprived of their liberty, identifying good practices and making recommendations for effective measures to prevent human rights violations against children in detention and reduce the number of children deprived of liberty.

As called for in UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/69/157, the Study will map out, through monitoring and evaluation analysis, how existing international laws and standards are being implemented on the ground. Through comprehensive data collection, it will also provide a consolidation of good practices and the formulation of recommendations, to support the work of States, UN agencies and other stakeholders to more effectively implement international standards. Manfred Nowak has been appointed to lead the Study, overseeing the development of an in-depth, comprehensive global report to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 73rd regular session in 2018.

The Study is relevant to our work on children of prisoners because it will cover all forms of deprivation of children’s liberty, making it an important opportunity to raise awareness of situations where children are detained with an incarcerated parent. At the first meeting between Manfred Nowak and the NGO Panel working on this issue, children detained with incarcerated parents was specifically listed as one of the topics to be included in the Study. It is now important that all civil society actors working on this issue coordinate effectively and contribute the necessary material to ensure that the situation of these children is fully and effectively incorporated into the Study.

All NGOs working on children of incarcerated parents are encouraged to get involved. Here are some ways to participate:

  • Join the NGO panel to be part of the coordinated advocacy campaign around the Study;
  • Send details and links of any of the following to Catherine Baker at the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) (cbaker@quno.ch) for inclusion in the Study and upcoming advocacy work:
  1. Relevant publications and examples of good practice;
  2. Academics working on this issue who should be included on the Study’s Academic Panel;
  3. Details of any relevant events in the next two years related to children detained with their parents.

 

 

Related Areas of Work

November 2016

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO's November 2016 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is now available online. The latest issue features: an interview with our Food & Sustainability Representative on her upcoming expert consultation on the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers and ensuring food security, a report on the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, news about our inequality side-event during Geneva Peace Week, and a QUNO Q&A  with 2016 Geneva Summer School participant Ayah Abubasheer.

The newsletter also includes a one-page insert featuring QUNO's perspective on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The full publication is available below.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

September 2016

5 years of progress on the children of incarcerated parents: launch of a new resource

To mark five years since the Committee on the Rights of the Child held a Day of General Discussion (DGD) on Children of Incarcerated Parents, Child Rights Connect’s Working Group on this issue is launching a new database of relevant recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. As convenor of Child Rights Connect’s Working Group, QUNO has complied this database to highlight what has been achieved since the DGD, and to encourage further progress in protecting the rights of these children around the world.

The 2011 DGD was an important moment in raising the issue of children incarcerated parents within the UN human rights system. Since then, the issue has been reflected in a Human Rights Council resolutions, advanced in national policy and practice and been the subject of important research projects, with advocacy efforts coordinated by newly developed regional networks.

This resource is the latest development in efforts to raise the profile of this often overlooked group. It enables Committee Members, States and civil society to browse the Concluding Observations made by the Committee to States regarding their treatment of children of incarcerated parents. The Concluding Observations can be searched by State, year, Committee session, UN document reference or keywords. 

We hope that the resource will encourage further recognition of this issue in international policy, leading to better protection of these children’s rights.

The database can be found at www.crccip.com

We also marked the five-year anniversary of the DGD by delivering an oral statement to the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council on children of incarcerated parents. Please see here for details of the statement.

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Related Areas of Work