July 2020

QUNO Joint Statement on Children of Prisoners, Role of Civil Society in protecting their rights

During the 44th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, QUNO delivered a joint oral statement with partner Child Rights Connect, as co-convenor of the Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents. The statement was delivered to the Annual Panel Discussion on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building, which this year focussed on the treatment of prisoners, in particular the implementation of the 'Nelson Mandela Rules' on the Standard Minimum Treatment of Prisoners, and the 'Bangkok Rules' for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders. The statement drew attention to the specific rights and needs of children of incarcerated parents, who too often remain overlooked even in the implementation of these rules. 

In particular, the statement drew the panel's attention to the essential role of Civil Society actors in upholding these rights and providing Technical Assistance to governments. It noted the work of Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) members, RODA, in Croatia including working with the government to implement video visits and provide child-friendly visiting spaces, and Families Outside Scotland who act as a vital bridge sharing knowledge, information and resources between families, prison authorities and government. It also referred to the work of  Plataforma NNAPES members in Argentina in producing the National Ombudsman for Prisons report on children with incarcerated parents, and of EFry in Canada who, along with partner organisations have created tools for courts, justice system officials, and social care providers to build supportive networks for these children. The role of civil society is essential to the promotion and protection of the rights of these children.

QUNO was pleased to receive positive responses to its call for a UN interagency handbook to guide States on upholding the rights of children of incarcerated parents, which would provide much needed technical assistance, from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and Penal Reform International, and looks forward to ongoing work on this. 

The statement, delivered by QUNO's Human Rights and Refugees Programme Assistant Lucy Halton, is available to watch online here at 01:06. 

The oral statement and associated written statement are also available to read in full below. 

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