24 March 2012


Thousands of children remain locked behind bars in immigration detention centres across the globe for simply fleeing for their lives and seeking safety in another country – a fundamental right of every person (Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

According to Chilout more than 500 children are detained in Australia, despite the governments stated policy that "children will not be held in immigration detention centres".

Last week saw the international launch of the International Detention Coalition in Geneva. The IDC aims to end or limit immigration detention for children or at the very least improve conditions in detention facilities. National launches also took place in twenty countries around the world at the same time.

The Geneva launch included the release of the coalition’s policy document "Captured Childhood" (available through the website). Over the past two years, the IDC has heard first-hand the stories of children and parents from all over the world who have experienced immigration detention. In total 70 children were interviewed and the experiences of 16 parents of children who had been detained were also recorded.

The report says some children were "incarcerated in squalor, placing them at risk of illness and disease", while others were "kept in circumstances that seem designed to isolate and humiliate them".

The report also pointed out that immigration detention has a profoundly negative impact on children's physical and psychological development, placing them at risk of depression, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, bed-wetting and feelings of hopelessness and frustration.

The need for alternative approaches to managing the irregular migration of children is highlighted in the report and alternative models to ensure the rights and liberty of refugee, asylum seeker and irregular migrant children affected by immigration detention are suggested.

The International Detention Coalition website also contains suggestions for action that anyone can take.

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