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, as well as 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.

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.
  • Disseminating the findings and recommendations of the COPING project research.

Recent Timeline Events

September 2016

QUNO delivers oral statement on the rights of children of incarcerated parents at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council

QUNO delivered an oral statement on the rights of children of incarcerated parents at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The statement marked the five-year anniversary of the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Day of General Discussion on Children of Incarcerated Parents (held in September 2011), and recognised the importance of this event in contributing to improved international and national standards on the issue. 

QUNO called upon the Council to focus on implementing the relevant resolutions and to consider the situation of children of parents sentenced to death or executed ahead of the upcoming General Assembly resolution on moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Catherine Baker, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees delivered the statement during the General Debate discussion on Friday 16th September


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August 2016

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO's August 2016 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is now available online. The latest issue features: an update on recent developments on the issue of nuclear disarmament at the international level, an introduction to our work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to communicate climate science in simpler, more ethical language, and our Human Rights & Refugees programme details their work on children of parents sentenced to death or executed. 

 The full publication is available below.

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January 2016

VIDEO: Laurel Townhead talks about our Human Rights & Refugees programme

In this video, excerpted from a longer film shown at the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) World Plenary Meeting held in Peru in January 2016, Human Rights & Refugees discusses the work of our Human Rights & Refugees programme.

The Quaker United Nations Office Human Rights & Refugees programme works to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights through the United Nations system, with particular reference to the interface between human rights and armed conflicts, the protection of refugees, the rights of people in detention, and other Quaker concerns.

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