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Tuesday 25th of February 2020

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IJJO raises the topic of Mental Health for Young Offenders during the annual full-day meeting of the Human Rights Council’s 19th Session

Thursday 22nd of March 2012
IJJO Day by Day

During the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council, the IJJO participated in the annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child, held in Geneva on the 8th of March.

As a conclusion of the Mental Health Resources for Young Offenders (MHYO) Publications, the Observatory delivered an oral statement on the mental health situation of children deprived of their liberty as well as on pretrial detention, in collaboration with Open Society Justice Initiative and Penal Reform International. The Human Rights Council is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them. There are three regular sessions throughout each year, held in Geneva, Switzerland. Among its themes, the HRC specifically includes the topic of children and dedicates an annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child. This year’s annual full-day meeting focused on ‘children and the administration of justice’ and was held on the 8th of March. The HRC opened its annual full-day meeting by holding a discussion on children in conflict with the law, debating key challenges, worrisome trends and best practices regarding children in contact with judicial systems. Several member states pointed out the issue of mental health, and the OHCHR and the Uruguayan Presidency has decided to give this topic the necessary importance by inviting as an expert Dainius Puras, Head and Professor of the Centre of Child Psychiatry and Social Pediatrics at Vilnius University, Lithuania, and former member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (2007 – 2011). Mr. Puras emphasized the importance of mental and emotional wellbeing among children deprived of liberty and noted that while this area of health is often neglected and overlooked; it should, indeed, be one of the priorities to be addressed. Among the participating countries, Australia, Angola and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have also underlined the importance of health and mental health issues for children and young people in conflict with the law. Australia acknowledged that “children of incarcerated parents can experience significant social disadvantage, and are at heightened risk of parental drug and alcohol abuse, family violence, mental illness, poverty, child abuse, and social isolation”. Angola recognised that “violence is a problem that deserves special treatment due to its destructive impact on life, on physical and mental health and the psychological effects on the harmonius development of the child”, arguing that this prevents them from contributing to and benefiting from society which they belong to. The OIC, represented by Pakistan, recommended that in light of the Cairo Declaration on the Rights of the Child 2009, OIC Member States “take legislative measures to ensure that children deprived of their liberty have access to education, adequate health care and to sports and other leisure activities”. The IJJO in its recommendations urged the UN agencies and National bodies to take the topic into consideration and encouraged all UN Member States to implement international standards regarding mental health for young offenders in the administration of justice and in particular in the case of deprivation of liberty. We also appreciate the initiative by OHCHR and the Uruguayan Presidency for inviting an ex-offender from Fundacion Diagrama Intervención Psicosocial, who shared his personal experience within the Spanish juvenile justice system.

24th meeting 19th Session of the Human Rights Council

  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

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  • Head Office: Rue Mercelis, nº 50. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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