Howard League blog · 10 Jan 2018
Enshrining children’s rights in policy and practice
The Howard League is working in partnership with Defence for Children International (DCI) Belgium, DCI Italy and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which is based in Poland. This international project is funded by the EU and aims to promote children’s rights by improving detention conditions for children and enhancing the legal protections for children deprived of their liberty.
The Howard League helped to produce the first European practical guide dedicated to the monitoring of places where children are deprived of liberty. The second Children’s Rights Behind Bars project builds on this work to ensure that children’s rights are enshrined in policy and practice.
The Children’s Rights Behind Bars project is working with children in custody, listening to their views and experiences and empowering them to use the rights under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child to improve their experiences and life chances. We are working with professionals across the youth justice system to ensure that children leaving prison are given appropriate support and that their views are listened to and taken into account.
We are forging ahead meeting decision makers and policy gurus, speaking at conferences for practitioners and professionals, all so that children’s rights are at the heart of the system
We are halfway through the two-year project that will culminate in a European conference and child-friendly resources to empower children to assert their rights, drawing on what we have learned from children in our participation and legal work.
In the last year we have delivered workshops to forensic psychiatrists who work with children in detention to inform them of children’s rights, and we discovered that they were not being taught about children’s legal and human rights routinely. We have presented to prison staff and governors, legal aid practitioners, and to Parole Board members. We are delivering workshops to advocates who are employed to support children in custody and prison officers inside prisons and secure units that collectively hold the majority of child prisoners. We have also listened to the views of young people in custody and delivered participation workshops to empower and inform them about their rights.
We are forging ahead meeting decision makers and policy gurus, speaking at conferences for practitioners and professionals, all so that children’s rights are at the heart of the system.