Panel looks into reducing number of children deprived of their liberty

On 23 September 2019, Prof Benyam Mezmur, head of the Children's Rights Project, was part of the panel at a side event of the 24th Human Rights Council Session in Geneva. The event was to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and it was organised by the African Union Ambassadors to Geneva.

Prof Mezmur looked at the position of the African Committee of Experts on reducing children deprived of their liberty . He spoke on the African Children's Charter with an emphasis on the plural legal systems in Africa and their implications for child justice in general and children deprived of liberty in particular. 

The theme of the event was:  "Unlocking children's potential through reducing the number of children deprived of their liberty with a focus on Africa as part of the 30th commemoration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.'  

The event comes against the backdrop of the release of the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty and a revised General Comment No 24 of the Committee of the Rights of the Child that call for a paradigm shift in the conception of child justice and an imperative to consider new and innovative ways to keep children out of prisons and other forms of institutions and opt for non-custodial measures. 

It also showcased some successes regarding the reduction of the number of children in custodial settings - South Africa has managed to reduce the number of children in prison from 3 743 to 242 over the past 20 years, and there were discussions on how this was achieved.

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