Detention of children in the time of Covid-19 reveals that governments and detaining authorities in at least 84 countries have released thousands of minors since April 2020 when UNICEF drew attention to their increased risk of contracting Covid-19 in confined and overcrowded spaces, and called for their immediate release.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore praised nations responding to UNICEF’s call to protect children deprived of their liberty during the pandemic.
“We have long known that justice systems are ill-equipped to handle the specific needs of children -a situation further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ms. Fore.
Children in detention – including in pre- and post-trial custody, immigration detention, held in relation to armed conflict or national security, or living with parents in detention – are often held in confined and overcrowded spaces. They lack adequate access to nutrition, healthcare, and hygiene services, and are vulnerable to neglect, physical and psychological abuse, and gender-based violence.
Worldwide, an estimated 261,000 children in conflict with the law – those who have been alleged, accused or recognized as having committed an offence – are held in detention, according to the second UNICEF analysis.