Children status should always prevail over migrant status. High-level event organized by SRSG on Violence against Children calls for ending child immigration detention

New York, 15 October 2021 – As chair of the UN Task Force on Children Deprived of Liberty, SRSG Maalla M’jid co-organized a high-level side event with the Governments of Colombia, Morocco, Portugal, Thailand, and Turkey on ending child immigration detention in line with the SDG agenda. 

The event aimed to seize the opportunities created by the 2021 High-level Political Forum to prevent child immigration detention through reforms of law and policies and build upon the wealth of child rights-based measures to prevent and provide alternatives to child immigration detention.

In this high-level dialogue, panelists shared good practices and lessons learned on child-rights-based alternative measures in the various UN Member States to end child immigration detention and promoted enhanced cooperation at global, regional, and national levels to accelerate ending child immigration detention in line with the international human rights framework. 

SRSG Najat Maalla M’jid addressed the focus of the Task Force this year on ending child immigration detention through joined advocacy, collecting and sharing promising practices with states and other key stakeholders in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Global Compact for Migration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We need to mobilize all Member States and key stakeholders at local, national, regional, and global levels and to engage in widespread scaling up and sharing the wealth of experiences, to end child immigration detention and to strengthen national and local child and social protection systems that are inclusive and easily accessible to children on the move,” said Dr. Maalla M’jid. 

In her opening remarks, H.E. Mrs. María Juliana Ruiz Sandoval, First Lady of the Republic of Colombia, acknowledged the challenges faced by the governments in dealing with the profound impact of migrants and highlighted the critical role of alternatives to detention in this circumstance. She shared valuable policy practices of the government of Colombia in this regard and called for the support and commitment of the international community to strengthen the integration strategy, care mechanisms, and the design of services that meet the needs of migrant children. 

“We must work together to uphold the commitment made by all member states of the United Nations in 2016 New York declaration on Refugees and Migrants and to work towards ending the practice of detaining children for the purpose of determining their migratory status,” stressed Mrs. María Juliana Ruiz Sandoval. 

Ameyalli, young advocate, and multidisciplinary artist, shared her experience as victim  abuses of authority from the system of detention and demonstrated the devasting impact that immigration detention can have on children and young people. 

H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the UN, highlighted the integrated and non-discriminatory support of the government of Morocco for migrant children, particularly in the context of the covid-19 pandemic. He addressed the development of an integrated child protection system in line with the public policy on child protection to provide proper assistance in a more inclusive and sustainable way. 

“Morocco is fully committed to the safeguard of human rights of all children, including particular attention to children on the move to prioritize their best interest to bring an end to their detention and to ensure a friendly, safe, and secure environment for each one of them and everyone,” stressed H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale. 

This high-level event encouraged a timely discussion among global leadership on ending children's immigration detention, contributing to the steady implementation of policies and legal frameworks by Member States, and further advance our efforts to move forward towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

“As we build back better, we must ensure that migrant children are not left behind. The best interests of the child must prevail over general considerations of immigration control/enforcement. Children status should prevail over migrant status.” 

Watch the full event here.