Migration is not a crime and vulnerable migrant and refugee children should not be detained as if they were criminals, speakers said at a UN program on 21st February.
At issue is the treatment of children who cross international borders with or without family members. According to international law, they are entitled to due process in the assessment of their legal status, entry and stay in the receiving country.
In addition, the United Nations’ 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and its 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants committed the international community to work to end the harmful practice of child detention.
More than one dozen speakers addressed ‘Ending the Detention of Migrant and Refugee Children: Best Interest Determination and Alternatives to Detention’ in a fast-paced discussion hosted by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.
UN agencies estimate more than 65 million people are currently stateless or forcibly displaced from their countries and 51 per cent of them are children. In many countries, newly arrived migrants and refugees are held in detention facilities similar to those used for criminals.