Child Rights Discussion Day

Biggest-ever child rights discussion day to look at prisoners’ children

Children whose parents are in prison will come under the UN spotlight for the first time ever on Friday 29 September 2011.  Families Outside, a Scottish charity that works solely on behalf of families affected by imprisonment will be one of four Scottish delegates attending.

At its 2011 Day of General Discussion (DGD), the Committee on the Rights of the Child will explore the rights of ‘children of incarcerated parents’. These children have committed no crime but are deeply affected by their parents’ involvement in the criminal justice system. Almost uniquely, children themselves will speak at the main session of the DGD, which with up to 250 participants is expected to be the biggest ever.

“Children of prisoners are often referred to as the invisible victims of the penal system”, said Oliver Robertson, co-convenor of the NGO Group for the CRC’s Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents. “We hope that this event will bring them to centre stage.”

An estimated 16,500 children each year in Scotland experience a parent’s imprisonment – more than experience a parent’s divorce.  Despite affecting 800,000 children across Europe and millions of children worldwide, 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 to the DGD.

Dr Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive of Families Outside, said “We are pleased to be representing Scotland along with our colleagues and that this issue is finally being recognised.  We look forward to feeding in to the UN’s Discussion and informing Scottish policy in turn.”

“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 DGD 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 DGD will look 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.


  1. The Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Day of General Discussion 2011 is on the topic ‘children of incarcerated parents’. It takes place from 10.00 to 18.00 on Friday 30 September in Room XVII and XI of the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
  2. The DGD will be 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 CET on Friday 30 September. To watch the working group discussion on ‘children on the outside’, go to between 10.50 and 17.20 CET on Friday 30 September.
  3. The exhibition, ‘Collateral Convicts: If my parent goes to prison, what happens to me?’ will be on show at the Bar Serpent at the Palais des Nations until Friday 30th September. Images from the exhibition available on request.


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