COPE member organisation Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) has submitted suggested questions and concluding observations on children of prisoners to the 71st session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which began on the 11 January 2016.
QUNO submitted questions for Ireland, France, and Latvia’s review before the Committee on Child Rights, which finished on 29 January.
The suggested questions for Ireland, France and Latvia focused on several key issues relating to children of prisoners in their respective countries. Questions focused on issues such as the importance of data collection in relation to children of prisoners, the extent to which the best interests of the child are observed and respected within the criminal justice system, the separation of and contact between parents in prison and children, and the steps taken to prevent discrimination against children who have a parent in prison.
QUNO also made firm recommendations in its suggested concluding observations to ensure that systems of data protection are implemented and to develop systems to assess and protect the best interests of children within the criminal justice system. The suggested concluding observations also express the importance of supporting children whose parents are in prison, maintaining contact where appropriate, and ensuring that children with incarcerated parents are not discriminated against in any way.
In the Committee proceedings, during the report of France as to its implementation of the UNCRC principles, the Committee remarked on the ability for newborn children to stay with their mothers for 18 months in France. During Ireland’s report, questions were asked by a Committee Expert as to what happened to children whose parents are imprisoned and the provisions made for mothers and children within prison. In relation to Latvia’s submissions, the Committee remarked on the provisions for mothers and children staying together in cases of parental imprisonment, the number of children in Latvian prisons, and the facilities available for children living in prison with their mothers.
Outside of Europe, the Committee raised questions and made remarks relating to children of prisoners in response to the reports of Peru, Oman, Iran, Haiti, and Senegal. Questions ranged from what support and help was available to children and imprisoned parents (Senegal and Haiti), to the extent to which the State was facilitating contact between children and their imprisoned parents (Iran).
The 71st Session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child finished on the 29th January and COPE is awaiting the release of its concluding observations.