jueves, 18 de junio de 2020

"Children and adolescents deprived of liberty or with incarcerated parents are among the most marginalized in the world"

This statement is included in the document entitled Children speak about the impact of deprivation of liberty: the case of Latin America, which gathers information on children and adolescents deprived of liberty and on those who have incarcerated parents, and explores the intersection between two realities intrinsically linked by violence. 

This is report is result of an alliance between the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, the NNAPES Platform, UNICEF, the governments of Paraguay and Uruguay, and the organization Gurises Unidos.

The work was carried out between 2017 and 2018 when consultations were held with a total of 504 children and adolescents who were either deprived of liberty or had a parent deprived of liberty. 

Children and adolescents with incarcerated parents (NNAPES, for its initials in Spanish), between 6 to 17 years old, from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and Uruguay, were consulted for this report.

"Children deprived of liberty or with incarcerated parents are among the most marginalized in the world, living a life marked by violence and fear and seeing their rights systematically trampled on," says the report and notes that the lives of the children and adolescents from both groups are conditioned by the lack of adequate parental support and by violence, fear, insecurity and social exclusion. "Deprivation of liberty is intrinsically linked to the cycle of violence. The recourse to violence is present in their life history, in their families, at the time of arrest and throughout the entire period of imprisonment”, the document added.

Invisible children

"When your parents are in jail, who is going to help you?", says a Chilean teenager who was part of the consultation. Another teenager from Uruguay shared a similar feeling: "We are people, but for society it is as if we did not exist." The incarceration of a family member has negative effects on the family environment, impacting on the economy and on the care of children. In most cases, it is the children and adolescents themselves who have to assume adult roles, abandoning formal education and carrying out child labor activities, and are often exposed to street life, situations of violence, abuse and exploitation.

Added to this, there is an impact on a psychological and emotional level, as well as the stigmatization they sometimes suffer. Among the findings, the study indicates that many children and adolescents deprived of liberty also have a father or relative in prison. In Uruguay, this situation was identified in 67% of cases.

The report affirms that this data shows the pernicious cycle that can trigger the entry to the justice system in childhood and this is one of the powerful reasons why it is urgent to adopt preventive measures and apply the principle of remission for juvenile offenders. In this sense, the document makes a series of recommendations to the States that focus on the protection of children and adolescents regarding?? the penal system, in the establishment of supervision and surveillance mechanisms, in the training of personnel, in promoting data systematization and analysis, and in collaboration with local actors, civil society and the business sector.

Lastly, a greater investment in children and adolescents is suggested, a recommendation that is aligned with the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.