SRSG Santos Pais organizes International Seminar in Argentina on children deprived of liberty

Buenos Aires (Argentina) 20 May 2016 - On 19 and 20 May the International Seminar "Monitoring and supervision of centres of deprivation of liberty for children" was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This activity was co-organized by UNICEF Argentina and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children (SRSG VAC) as a contribution to the preparation of the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty requested by the UN Secretary General.

The seminar aimed to identify standards, good practices and challenges in generating autonomous and independent systems for monitoring detention centers in Latin America, with a view to guaranteeing the rights of children in contact with the law. This activity was attended by the SRSG VAC, Marta Santos Pais, the UN Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, and the Rapporteur on Children of the OAS, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, among other leading experts. In turn, the seminar was an opportunity to share current experiences of monitoring and supervision of deprivation of liberty in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The opportunity was also used to reflect on comparative experiences in Europe as well as representatives of NGOs such as Defence for Children International (DCI) and the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO).

Some of the main recommendations from the seminar were the confirmation of the exceptionality, determination and maximum brevity of deprivation of liberty and the need for alternatives to detention. The meeting also identified the essential characteristics required for monitoring and supervising mechanisms for children deprived of liberty within criminal justice system: a) functional, organizational and financial autonomy and independence; b) a broad legal human rights´s mandate (for monitoring the rights of the child); c) the power to access centres without notice, to request reports and follow up on its recommendations; d) the need for incorporating the views of children, especially through friendly and effective mechanisms of complaints that avoid impunity and; e) counting with precise and useful instruments for measuring compliance with children´s rights, always integrated into comprehensive protection systems for children.

While in Buenos Aires, the Special Representative met with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights and the National Committee of the High Time Initiative. This committee is composed of a wide range of representatives of civil society, governmental and parliamentary authorities.