The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children, the first comprehensive global effort to provide a detailed picture of the nature, extent and causes of violence against children worldwide and to propose clear recommendations for action to prevent and respond to it, was launched today in Tehran.
The launching event was attended by Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the independent expert appointed by the UN Secretary-General to lead the Study. Officials from Iran’s Ministries of Health and of Welfare, the judiciary, Tehran’s juvenile correction centre, UNICEF Iran, as well as child rights advocates, diplomats and the media also took part in the launch.
Christian Salazar the head of UNICEF in analysis of the report and its application to Iran listed Stopping Child Executions in Iran as one of the matters of primary concern and of highest priority.
According to the UN Study :
-Despite the obligation to ensure that the detention of children shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time contained in article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it was estimated in 1999 that 1 million children are deprived of their liberty. Most of these are charged with minor or petty crimes, and are first-time offenders. Many are detained because of truancy, vagrancy or homelessness. In some countries, the majority of children in detention have not been convicted of a crime, but are awaiting trial.
– Children in detention are frequently subjected to violence by staff, including as a form of control or punishment, often for minor infractions. In at least 77 countries corporal and other violent punishments are accepted as legal disciplinary measures in penal institutions. Children may be beaten, caned, painfully restrained, and subjected to humiliating treatment such as being stripped naked and caned in front of other detainees. Girls in detention facilities are at particular risk of physical and sexual abuse, mainly when supervised by male staff.
– In keeping with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, national legislation in most countries requires separate facilities for children in conflict with the law in order to prevent abuse and exploitation by adults. Yet detention with adults is routine in many countries. Children in detention are also at heightened risk of self-harm or suicidal behaviour, particularly in cases of prolonged or indefinite detention, isolation, or when detained in adult facilities.
Report concludes that:
.“Everyone has a role to play in this, but states must take primary responsibility. ….Bearing in mind that States are responsible for ensuring the safety of children in residential care and juvenile justice detention facilities, ……
– States should also establish comprehensive, child-centred, restorative juvenile justice systems that reflect international standards. Detention should be reserved for child offenders who are assessed as posing a real danger to others, and significant resources should be invested in alternative arrangements, as well as community-based rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.
Some of the report recommendations are:
- Regularly reassess placements by reviewing the reasons for a child’s placement in care or detention facilities, with a view to transferring the child to family or community-based care;
– Establish effective and independent complaints, investigation and enforcement mechanisms to deal with cases of violence in care and justice system;
– Ensure that children in institutions are aware of their rights and can access the mechanisms in place to protect those rights;
– Ensure effective monitoring and regular access to care and justice institutions by independent bodies empowered to conduct unannounced visits, conduct interviews with children and staff in private, and investigate allegations of violence;
– Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which provides for a system of independent preventive visits to places of detention.