I have been involved with a new project on children in custody, which is being coordinated by the Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE). The project is called Ending Violence Against Children in Custody. It aims to:
|Image courtesy of worradmu/www.freedigitalphotos.net|
"...empower children and young people with experience of custody to investigate the views of other children and young people in custody, to work together to determine their own recommendations for reducing violence in custody and to develop their own campaigning activities."
The project looks at the situation of children in custody in five European countries: Austria, Cyprus, England, The Netherlands and Romania. I helped with researching the domestic rules governing custody for children and young people in each country. You can see a summary, as well as the total population of young prisoners in each of the countries, here.
I have also been helping with other reports to do with this project. This week, CRAE released a report which focuses on children's experience of violence in custody in England, and gives their recommendations for achieving violence-free custodial settings. A group of young people, with experience of custody, are now campaigning on two of the recommendations. You can see the report here and the accompanying press release here.
Children in custody, like all children, have the right to be protected from all forms of violence, under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Further, experiencing violence in custody cannot help, and rather, would hinder, any reform or rehabilitation of children in custodial settings. Article 40 of the Convention says that children who are accused of being, or who are, in conflict with the law, must be treated in a way which:
- promotes their sense of dignity and worth;
- reinforces their respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms of others;
- and promotes their reintegration, with the children assuming a constructive role in society.
This cannot happen if those in charge of custodial settings themselves use violence against children and young people, or if they do not create a setting which prevents the children and young people from being violent towards each other. I like CRAE's project because it addresses these issues, and empowers children and young people to take action.
To learn more, and to follow the progress of the Ending Violence Against Children in Custody project, you can visit this website: www.violencefreecustody.org.uk. I will also post further updates from the project on this blog.