European children’s rights institutions express deep concern over U.S child detention policy

25 June 2018

Quote from ENOC: 'Children on the move are first and foremost children and they should not be subject to the irreparable harm caused by detention.

A network of Independent Children’s Rights institutions has expressed deep concerns at the USA’s current ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy.

The policy has led to children being separated from their parents and held in detention.

The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) registered their concerns in a statement released on Friday.

In this, they:

  • noted that the trauma experienced by detained children would make them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,
  • described the repercussions of exploitation and abuse on children’s mental health as “beyond measure,” and,
  • called on all political leaders in Europe to stand up for a migration policy based on children’s human rights.

The trauma experienced by these children renders them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and the repercussions on the children’s mental health are beyond measure.

The traumatic separation creates toxic stress in children and adolescents that can profoundly impact their development and increase the risk of stress-related illnesses well into adulthood.

About the Network

ENOC is a group of independent offices established in European countries to promote children's fundamental rights.

It’s made up of 42 institutions, including the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.

In total its members represent institutions from 34 European states, from both inside and outside the European Union.

ENOC’s statement

We, members of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) as Independent Children’s Rights Institutions, recognise the positive action taken by President Trump to revoke the decision to separate children from their parents.

Nevertheless, we express our deep concern regarding the situation of the children being held in detention due to the ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy in the USA.

Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that ‘states parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will.’

The trauma experienced by these children renders them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and the repercussions on the children’s mental health are beyond measure.

The traumatic separation creates toxic stress in children and adolescents that can profoundly impact their development and increase the risk of stress-related illnesses well into adulthood.

ENOC calls on all political leaders in Europe to stand up for a global human rights and children’s rights-based migration policy that ensures family reunification and provides psychological support to these children.

Children on the move are first and foremost children and they should not be subject to irreparable harm caused by detention.