A fourteen-year-old migrant from Niger rests his hand on a gate inside a detention centre, in Libya.© UNICEF/Alessio Romenzi  A fourteen-year-old migrant from Niger rests his hand on a gate inside a detention centre, in Libya.


More than 45,000 boys and girls were released from detention during the COVID-19 pandemic, proving that child-friendly justice solutions “are more than possible”, according to new data released on Monday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

Detention of children in the time of COVID reveals that authorities in at least 84 countries have safely returned scores of detained youngsters to their families since April 2020, which is when UNICEF sounded the alarm over how confinement increases children’s risk of contracting the disease. 

The report is one of two studies released ahead of the World Congress on Justice with Children, taking place online this week. 

Heeding the call 

Henrietta Fore, the UNICEF Executive Director, commended those countries that heeded the agency’s call. 

“We have long known that justice systems are ill-equipped to handle the specific needs of children – a situation further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. 

“By protecting children from conditions that could have exposed them to grave illness, these countries were able to overcome public resistance and spur innovative, age-appropriate justice solutions. This has proved something we already knew – child friendly justice solutions are more than possible.”

Across the world, children have been detained, including in pre- and post-trial custody, or in immigration detention. 

They have also been held in relation to armed conflict or national security, or they live with parents who are in confinement.   

COVID-19 impact 

Detention facilities are often overcrowded, and children there lack adequate access to nutrition, healthcare and hygiene services. 

They are also vulnerable to neglect, physical and psychological abuse, as well as gender-based violence.  Furthermore, many are denied access to lawyers and family care. 

UNICEF said the pandemic has profoundly affected justice for children.  COVID-19 forced courts to shut down, and restricted access to essential social and justice services.

Evidence shows that many children, including children living on the streets, were detained for violating pandemic curfew orders and movement restrictions. 

Justice for children 

Approximately 261,000 children globally are held in detention, according to the second UNICEF report. 

Estimating the number of children deprived of their liberty in the administration of justice is the first such analysis in more than a decade, and warns that incomplete record-keeping and undeveloped administrative data systems in many countries mean the number is likely to be much higher.   

UNICEF called for governments and civil society to reimagine justice to safely end the detention of all children. 

“Any child detained is evidence of failed systems, but that failure is then compounded further. Justice systems meant to protect and support children often add to their suffering,” said Ms. Fore. 

“As policymakers, legal practitioners, academics, civil society, and children and young people convene at the World Congress this week, we must work together to end the detention of children”. 

Recommendations include investing in legal rights awareness for children in the justice and welfare systems, expanding free legal aid and representation, and prioritizing prevention and early intervention. 

To end child detention, governments are encouraged to implement legal reforms to raise the age of criminal responsibility, and to ensure justice for boys and girls who have survived sexual violence, abuse or exploitation.   

Action should also include investing in child and gender-sensitive justice processes, and establishing specialized child-friendly courts, as well as virtual and mobile courts.


Peaceever-UN News TV 久安联合国新闻电视

Peaceever UN News TV: It is a network television mainly for the promotion and reporting of United Nations news. It specially established by a New York registered non-governmental and non-profit organization "PeaceeverTV International Media Group"(UN New Media NGO). It assists and cooperates with United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations in New media for the promotion and reporting of global peace and security, the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, climate action, humanitarian relief, attention to refugee affairs, protection of women and children's rights, human rights issues, and sponsorship of various public welfare activities at the United Nations. 久安联合国新闻电视:是宣传报道联合国新闻为主的网络电视,是美国纽约州注册的非政府组织、非营利机构《久安电视国际传媒集团》专门设立的,协助和配合联合国机构、非政府组织在维护世界和平与安全、联合国2030可持续发展目标、气候行动、开展人道救援、关注难民事务、维护妇女儿童权益、人权事务以及赞助在联合国开展各项公益活动。

PeaceeverTV Stations Around the World

New York
866 United Nations Plaza Room #406, New York, NY 10017
212-574-4593 212-542-0618
Room 604, South Business Building, No. 2 Fuxingmen Street, State Administration of Radio, Film and Television

Latest News 最新视讯