lunes, 23 de abril de 2018

“You have the possibility to make other children not suffer what we suffered”

In August the third general assembly (GA) of Plataforma NAPPES was organized in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The GA created for the first time an environment where youth participants from Nicarágua, Argentina, Chile and Dominican Republic shared their experiences.

The event was organized in conjunction with the The National Council of Childhood and Adolescence of the Dominican Republic (CONANI). During the event, the youth shared their personal experiences with all the event participants (representatives and authorities from childhood organizations, members of the penal system, members of the judicial system, etc.) and their testimonies clearly showed the profound impact the arrest of a loved on has had on their lives.

Catalina, 17 years old, from Chile, testimony is a clear illustration of this.

During the first days, each of the member organizations presented their work and collaborated on the 2018 Plan of Action. Throughout the sessions the youth participated and shared their experiences. As well as participated in the production of Manifesto proposals to increase the awareness of children and adolescents with incarcerated parents.

The impact of their presentation made Alberto Padilla, the CONANI representative, commit to include the NNAPES theme in the work they are doing in the Dominican Republic, to protect children from violence.

miércoles, 11 de abril de 2018

Chile, Guatemala and Panama work together to protect the rights of NNAPES

The Chilean organization Enmarcha in partnership with Gendarmerie and the Ministry of Social Development of the country, carried out different work days in Panama and Guatemala, with the National Network of Support for Children and Adolescents   (Rednaniap) and Colectivo Artesana. The groups shared their experience in defending the rights of children and adolescents with relatives deprived of their liberty.

According to what was said by Francisca Hidalgo, director of Enmarcha, whose efforts are supported by the Chile Fund, which "seeks to support civil society organizations in Panama and Guatemala that are working in the line of promotion and protection of the rights of children who have a family member deprived of their liberty, also contributing to strengthen alliances between the State and Civil Society”.

Authoritative figures from Guatemala and Panama were present at the event. The website also mentions that this initiative seeks to generate inclusion of the most vulnerable sectors, as well as the elimination of all forms of discrimination, and create greater social justice. Since the reality impacts the children with relatives deprived of freedom violate their rights of childhood.

In addition to this regional activity, Enmarcha carried out the traveling museum Envisibles: Voices of childhood, prison and community. "The museum seeks to raise awareness of the violations of rights that these children live in, a reality that remains invisible to society in general." said Francisca Hidalgo, Executive Director of the NGO, to the Chilean press.

It is worth noting that in Chile there are more than 40,000 children and adolescents with relatives deprived of freedom. About 120 of those children are under the age of two years old, living in detention centers with their mothers.

Reference source:

Argentina implements actions for Children of Incarcerated Parents

Photo: Tedx Río de La Plata
ACIFAD and CWS  presented a series of interactive visuals throughout the conference. The first visual, was the presentation of the documentary Desinvisibilizar, (English subtitles coming soon) which provided an in depth look into the situation of children and adolescents with incarcerated parents.

The documentary Desinvisibilizar explores the reality of approximately 140,000 children and adolescents whose parents are deprived of liberty in Argentina. The documentary examines their lives, expectations, fears and desires while highlighting the need for supportive public policies.

Another focal point of the meeting, was the presentation of Andrea Casamento, President of ACIFAD, at TEDx Rio de la Plata. The event took place in Buenos Aires, last October and was attended by around 20,000 people. It was a excellent opportunity for Ms. Casamento to be able to explain the effects of prison on the lives of families as a whole. Her presentation already has almost 6,000 views on YouTube. Beyond this, ACIFAD and CWS have also made several specific actions related to the subject.

At the community level, a pilot project was created in an educational center in the Ciudad Oculta (Villa 15 - Buenos Aires), supported by the Navarro Viola Foundation and the platform NNAPEs. Teachers were trained and different awareness actions were carried out with people in the community. As a result, many families began to approach the Center to ask for advice and support about the issue while teachers began to respond.

After the documentary Desinvisibilizar was screened, at the University Center of the Penitentiary Complex in the City of Buenos Aires (Devoto), a group of parents deprived of liberty requested creating a series of activities and workshops on fatherhood . The workshop was formed and children were able to share a special day of games and activities with their parents and families.

CWS and ACIFAD coordinated the annual meeting of family victims of institutional violence organized by the Provincial Commission for Memory (CPM). It empowered the young people that participated in the event.
Photo: Julia Lurag

The meeting brought together about 500 people from 18 provinces in Argentina, who shared their experiences and proposals against violence exerted by security agencies, the prison service and justice systems.

During the event, a group of children and young people participated in various sports and cultural activities. There was also a time for reflection as well as time to share the challenges they face for having a family member deprived of freedom. One of the things that became clear, is that there are no safe and reliable spaces where they can talk about this.The group of children who have similar experiences, "Chapa" is the only place where they can talk, because "they are calm and all in the same situation".

The goal of the meetings in Argentina, is to continue the conversation during 2018 while spreading awareness and strengthening initiatives about the issue.

Uruguay presents the Protocol for the attention and support of children with incarcerated parents

Since 2014 several government institutions and civil society organizations working in the development of this project aim to define actions to support children and adolescents with relatives in a situation of deprivation of liberty. The organization Gurises Unidos, representing the platform, contributes through the Child Rights Committee of Uruguay. Also participating in this process was the Ministry of the Interior, the Institute of Child and Adolescent of Uruguay, the Ministry of Social Development and the Judiciary, along with many others.

The Protocol provides regulations to follow in all stages of criminal proceedings where children and adolescents are present, from the arrest to the release of their parent or caregiver.

Some of the recommendations are related to the cases of pregnant women. It is advised that they are given house arrest.So they may have access to food, shelter, health care, education and employment opportunities. Additional resources are available to these women, if at home to support the normal development of the child. It also urges the technical teams to incorporate various avenues of social family strengthening.

Once the children are directly affected by incarceration of their parent, the issue of visitation time becomes present.It is advised that time should not limit the entry of children and adolescents and that family friendly spaces are created inside the prisons.

Lastly, the initiative includes a interagency discussion aimed at monitoring the effective implementation of this protocol and a series of training workshops for leaders and officials that are responsible for the criminal proceedings. In total, 170 officials from nineteen departments have already been trained.

Download the protocol here

NNAPES Platform participated in meeting of IIN Directing Council of the OAS

Photo: Luciano Cadoni
NNAPES Platform representatives participated at the 92nd meeting of Direction Council of the Inter American Institute for Children of the OAS, Children(IIN) that took place in Bridgetown (Barbados) last September.

This time, the Plataforma was given a spot to present the work carried out at the regional level with representatives of States, Civil society organizations and Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary General on violence against children.

The presentation ended with the reading and distribution (in English and Spanish) of the manifesto produced by the youth at the Plataforma General Assembly in the Dominican Republic.

After the presentation, Victor Giorgi, IIN´s Executive Director, highlighted the importance that each country identifies a focal point to commit to work on, to find strategies at the national level and to work on this issue.

In March, the Platform sealed a cooperation agreement with the IIN. This agreement was signed by Victor Giorgi, director of the IIN and Gonzalo Salles, Director of Gurises Unidos, who was accompanied by Lia Fernandez, both members of the Coordinating Team of the Platform (Photo).

The agreement calls for the implementation of joint projects, exchange of ideas, generate knowledge and promote training on the subject of NNAPEs. While also developing initiatives, both at legislative and public policy levels.

First International Seminar on NNAPES in Brazil

Photo: Projeto Meninos e Meninas da Rua
On November 30th and December 1st the First Seminar for children and adolescents concerning adult detainees in São Paulo (Brazil), organized by the Articulação popular do Movimentos de Defesa dos direitos das Crianças e Adolescentes com familiares encarcerados (CAFEs) from Brazil.

In Brazil there are 720,000 people deprived of liberty and 59% of them have children. It is estimated that there are about 1 million children and adolescents with adults deprived of their liberty.The seminar discussed the impacts that incarceration has on the lives of children and their families.

Among the issues that emerged from the discussion was the urgency to find alternative measures to the deprivation of liberty as well as a review of the judicial, correctional and children rights protection system.

The authorities present at the event, including the National Secretary for Children Rights, committed to include the subject in programs involving children and adolescents supported by the federal government. In addition, the parliamentary head of the rights of children and adolescents from the state of San Pablo promised to address the issue in the Legislative Assembly, and to call other representatives to commit as well.

In the upcoming months, CAFEs will prepare a document with recommendations to present to the authorities and they will also try to organize other regional and statewide versions of this seminar.

To see the article that appeared on the state television in São Paulo on the event please click here.


Marta Santos Pais: “The children with incarcerated parents are the most invisible group in public policies”

At the last UN General Assembly, Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (SRSG), presented the preliminary findings of “Las voces de niñas, niños y adolescentes con referentes adultos privados de libertad” (The voices of children and adolescents with incarcerated parents)”. This was a regional research effort carried out last year in partnership with Plataforma NNAPES. 

During her presentation she highlighted that: “These children have the right to visit their incarcerated parents in secure and respectful places.” She then added, “For these children; fear, insecurity and lack of access to support services are very high concerns. Children are often bullied at school because a relative is in prison”.

This research is a contribution to the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty . It was produced with the aim of making the situations that these children face visible through the collection of qualitative information collected in 8 countries from the LAC region: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

What do the voices of children and adolescents in reference to their incarcerated parents say?

The study shows that the majority of these children live in vulnerable situations that worsen when their father or mother is incarcerated.

The study highlights the deprivation of liberty that the adult creates negative consequences in every aspect of the child's life. Some of the many consequences are stigma and social condemnation. For instance, a Mexican adolescent stated “At school, people don’t like you and say: “Oh, your relative is in the prison. They begin to say stuff about you as if you are a criminal yourself.”

The negative impacts on family life are due to changes in the care of the children as well as the changes in the family's financial situation. The Mexican adolescent states that her family changed a lot when her stepfather was arrested. “My mother wasn't eating, she wasn't doing the things she normally did and she wasn’t going to work. She used to get home at 1 or 2 am so no one was there to take care of my little brother.” As presented the child must adapt to the changes in his/her life and take on adult roles.

These children also often face violent situations and thus are forced to start working to provide an income for the family. They are at a higher risk of sexual exploitation and could end up living on the streets.

Another common consequence is the emotional impact on the child. The study highlights that sadness, pain, fear, shame, hatred and anger are amongst the most common feelings.

The situations that are experienced by these children and adolescents can also increase the school dropout rate.The education system in general, isn’t able to provide the support that the child may need to continue with their education. “I didn't go to school until my mother and father came out of prison.” said a Nicaraguan child.

Lastly, the children and adolescents that participated in the study recommended the following: :

  • Encourage the creation of conversation and open dialogue spaces for children with incarcerated parents. 
  • Ensure psycho-affective and economic support to families. 
  • Perform intersectional programs with a strong emphasis on the education system.
  • Protect the rights of the families to live with freedom from violence.
  • Plan actions for addiction prevention and treatment. 
  • Implement changes in the way arrests and police home invasions occur.
  • Reform the penal system, improve the quality of the visits and allow for a longer time period for visits in the penitentiary centers.