Project Children’s Rights Behind Bars


Everywhere in Europe, to many children are put in closed centres, imprisoned or deprived of liberty. Children are not adults and have specific rights and needs. It is commonly admitted that privation of liberty shall be used as a last resort and for a period as short as possible. Furthermore the ultimate objective of the detention should be the reinstatement of the child. Thus a work has to be made on the reinstatement of children into the society.

However, we noticed that in many countries preoccupations are raised on the conditions and the treatment of the children deprived of liberty (bad treatment, lack of effective complaint mechanisms, inadequate education, insufficient and/or absence of professional training, lack of contact with the family and close relatives, use of confinement as a disciplinary measure, etc.)
Many institutions are running controls of the places where children are deprived of liberty in order to supervise the conditions of detention and prevent torture, bad treatments and other violations of the Human Rights. But there is neither Practical Guide nor harmonised standards in Europe to evaluate the situation of children deprived of liberty.

The objectives

Improve the respect of the fundamental rights of children deprived of liberty
Improve the implementation of the international standards on juvenile justice in order to protect the rights and the needs of the children deprived of liberty;
Reinforce the cooperation between the member States of the EU in order to assure the effectiveness of the monitoring, the inspections and the complaint mechanisms available in the places where children are deprived of liberty.

Expected results

• To gather useful information and tools in order to promote a better coordination and harmonisation of the practices between the surveillance organization and key actors of children privation of liberty, and promote a reinforcement of the collaboration and complementarity;
• To give common evaluation standards taking into account the specific needs of the children deprived of liberty;
• To supply with practical tools and effective methods to prevent, identify and react to the violations of the fundamental rights of the children in the frame of detention;
• To favour the acquisition of similar information on the current situation of the juvenile detention center surveillance, as well as the complaint mechanisms available to the children deprived of liberty in 14 EU member States.

The outcomes

This project was run in 14 European countries by national partners who has run a study and produced a national report assessing the mechanisms of control and monitoring of detention places for children. The Belgian report is available in French en in English and in Dutch.

Gathering and studying these national report allowed the writing of a common report "European Overview"-"Children’s rights behind bars. Human rights of children deprived of liberty: improving monitoring mechanisms" which allowed to gather and analyse data for a compared study of the deferent monitoring mechanisms of the detention places and the mechanisms of complaint in the detention places for children in Europe, and evaluate their efficiency.

This report allowed the coordination team of this project to write a Guide, a practical and specific monitoring tool to the situation of children deprived of liberty. It targets the organisms in charge of controlling the detention places in order to give them the indications and applicable criteria in order to make these places more respectful of the Rights of the Child. Its goal is to raise awareness about the different mechanisms, their preventive and protection role during the monitoring of these places, to guide them in their mission presenting the practical aspects and the points on which to focus during a control, and assuring the follow up of their visits.

Finally this Practical Guide was presented during the European final conference - Children’s Rights Behinds Bars- Human Rights of Children deprived of liberty; Improving Monitoring Mechanisms, which took place on the 15th February 2016 in Brussels. The main goal of this conference was to present, promote and spread the Practical Guide among the European Union. But it also allowed a raise awareness on the importance of controlling such places with an effective and adapted approach to the specific needs of the children.

You can also watcgh these videos that present the project and the practical guide.

Useful links

For more information you can go on the website dedicated to this program:


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