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Best Practices to Protect Children against Torture in Detention

In detention, children become invisible, and their vulnerability puts them at high risk of being subjected to torture, whether by the authorities or their peers. For several decades, the OMCT and its partners have witnessed this dark reality. Together, we have documented hundreds of cases of torture and extrajudicial killings of children. We have seen threats to families, legal and policy reforms that have lowered standards, with impunity prevailing in many instances. However, our work is also marked by a number of success stories and positive responses to our efforts.

The present Guide is a collection of best practices from our own work, the work of our partners, and of other organisations. They have been picked from different contexts and have all made a positive difference in real life. They reflect a variety of original methods that have led to a decrease of cases of torture of children during deprivation of liberty, and include both efforts to promote safeguards preventing the use of torture and efforts to actually reduce the number of children who are detained in the first place.

In Laos, mediation has led to a whopping 90% decrease in child court hearings (p. 24) while in Togo, children have been freed from detention at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to our members at CACIT (p. 35). In Argentina, following creative advocacy by our members at Xumek, the number of children detained in Mendoza province has fallen from 600 to just 75 a year (p. 32). Bolivia shows another form of creativity, with art therapy coming to the rescue of children who had been tortured in detention (p. 43). Peer to peer psychological support is successfully carried out in the Philippines, with former child detainees mentoring those who have been freshly released and accompanying them on the road to rehabilitation (p. 48).

We view this Global Guide as a practical tool that can be used by civil society or other relevant actors worldwide to improve the implementation of international legal frameworks, standards and principles. We hope that this expertise can be replicated to protect even larger numbers of children from torture.

We look forward to your feedback for our next edition.

Read the Guide here.

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