Spotlight on children of prisoners at UN

Children with parents in prison are the focus of the UN today (Friday 30/09/2011) as its Committee on the Rights of the Child explores the rights of ‘children of incarcerated parents’ during the committee’s 2011 Day of General Discussion.

A Swedish child's drawing. Image:

When parents go to prison their children are often deeply affected. “Children of prisoners are often referred to as the invisible victims of the penal system”, said Oliver Robertson, co-convenor of the NGO (Non-Government Organisation) Group for the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents. “We hope that this event will bring them to centre stage.”

Despite affecting millions of children worldwide – over 2 million children in the USA alone are believed to have parents in prison – this is the first time that this neglected issue has been discussed substantively anywhere in the UN system. Alongside two prisoners’ children, specialists from Brazil, Pakistan and South Africa will also speak at the Day of General Discussion. “This is an issue where no one country or region is a clear world leader”, said Rachel Brett of the Quaker United Nations Office, which has worked on this issue since 2004. “The Day of General Discussion therefore gives us a unique opportunity to share ideas with people from around the globe who have worked with children of prisoners day in, day out.”

The Day of General Discussion will turn the spotlight on both at babies and children who live in prison with their parents and those children who remain outside. It is accompanied by an exhibition showing children’s experiences of parental incarceration through the words and drawings of children themselves.

The Day of General Discussion is being webcast live via Ustream. To watch the plenary and working group discussion on ‘children living in and visiting prison’, go to between 10.00 and 18.00 Central European Time (CET). To watch the working group discussion on ‘children on the outside’, go to between 10.50 and 17.20 CET.

To make a donation to the work of the Quaker UN Office in Geneva in recognition of their work for this Day of General Discussion, visit Alternatively text QUNO50 £5 to 70070.

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