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United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

In order to inform the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, in February 2018, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on behalf of the Independent Expert, distributed a Questionnaire to member States and other relevant stakeholders, including international monitoring bodies, UN agencies, such as UNODC, UNICEF, UNHCR, OHCHR, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Academia.

Conceptually based on expert input gathered through a consultative process in 2017, the Questionnaire was primarily aimed at collecting and providing quantitative statistical data about the number of children deprived of liberty. In addition, the questionnaire requests Governments to provide examples of promising practices and innovative alternative approaches aimed at reducing the number of children deprived of liberty.

Governments were requested to identify a national focal person responsible for coordinating the response to the questionnaire and for liaising with field offices of UN Agencies and with NGOs and other relevant stakeholders involved in compiling the requested data.

The questionnaire requests Governments to make a special effort in collecting data at a particular point in time (i.e. 26 June 2018) to provide a “snapshot” of the number of children detained. It was also possible however for replies to include data based on another day of the year. Questions also included the total number of children detained annually in each of the past ten years (2008 to 2017) - this was for facilitating a limited trend analysis.


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Responses to the questionnaire were requested to be sent in both hard copy and electronic format in one of the six official United Nations languages no later than 1 September 2018 to the Indepandent Expert, Manfred Nowak

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
By when and to whom should the questionnaire be sent?

The deadline to complete the questionnaire was 1 September 2018. The completed questionnaire was requested to be sent in both hard and electronic copy to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

What did the “snapshot” date mean and what if information from 26 June 2018 was not available?

Since past data might not be available and since there was no clear number on how many children were deprived of liberty, the questionnaire requested governments to make a special effort in collecting data on a particular point in time, namely 26 June 2018, to provide a “snapshot” of the number of children detained. Governments were requested to instruct all heads of prisons and other detention facilities in time to be well prepared to gather disaggregated data on 26 June. The snapshot data was for allowing to assess the global magnitude (while eliminating double-counting). If one government collected such “snapshot” data on a different date of the year, it was requested to provided information based on that specific date.

What was the process of replying to the questionnaire?

The completion of the questionnaire should ideally follow a collaborative process. A focal point was to be appointed within the government to coordinate with all relevant actors (ministries, UN agencies, NHRIs, NGOs, NPMs, etc.).

Who should complete the questionnaire?

It was encouraged that the questionnaire be completed in a collaborative manner with all relevant entities engaged in the provision of information. The questionnaire can, if preferred, be completed by the different entities separately (government, UN agencies, NGOs, NHRIs, NPMs, etc.). Information on responses (collective / individual) was not to be disclosed.

Who would have access to the information shared in the completed questionnaire?

To secure the confidentiality of the information provided in the questionnaire, access to the responses of the questionnaire (raw data) was to be restricted to the Independent Expert and his team only. Consolidated statistics, accompanied with appropriate contextual analysis and further reliability checks, was to be integrated into the Study.

Where should one include information on “child reform schools”?

Information concerning “child reform schools”, or other correctional institutions outside of the justice system, was to be included under Chapter IV, Children Deprived of Liberty in Institutions (page 19 of the questionnaire)

What did “non-citizens” refer to?

Non-citizens referred to all persons who were not citizens of the country, including stateless persons and citizens of other States.

What did the category "P-persons" stand for exactly?

“P” would mean “persons” (as in total of persons under 18 years of age).