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International Conference ''Kids Behind Bars"

A Child Rights Perspective

Project at a glance

Dates and Place

27 June - 02 July 2005, Bethlehem, Palestinian Territory, Occupied


Defence for Children International, Palestine Section

Project details

Every three years, Defence for Children International (DCI) organizes a conference on topical child rights issues. In accordance with the DCI General Assembly decision taken in Mar del Plata, Argentina in 2002, Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS) will be hosting the 2005 conference on the theme of Juvenile Justice under the title "Kids Behind Bars? A Child Rights Perspective". The Conference will be held from June 30 - July 2nd 2005 in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem. A steering committee has been chosen by the International Executive Council to organize the conference, with members drawn from DCI/Palestine, DCI/Netherlands and DCI/International Secretariat.

Since the establishment of DCI in 1979, Juvenile Justice has been a subject of major concern for the organization, leading to the launch of an International Network on Juvenile Justice (INJJ) in January 1997. The network aims to build, develop and improve juvenile justice systems worldwide, drawing on the principals established in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The CRC explicitly stipulates that the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and only then as a measure of last resort for the shortest appropriate period of time. Too often this is not the case. At any given time one million children across the world are held behind bars. Children in detention are often victims of social discrimination and are frequently denied their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Holding children in prisons and other detention facilities places great strain on their emotional, mental and physical development and also puts them at risk of being denied appropriate health care and education and in the worst cases, becoming victims of physical or mental abuse. In many countries, including Israel and the Palestinian Territories a wide gap exists between the law in theory and the law in practice.

Yet, children in prison are still not a high priority on the social and political agenda and often remain forgotten and out of sight. DCI/PS and its affiliates worldwide invite all international, regional and national NGOs, academics and other individual experts, government representatives, UN bodies and specialized agencies to share and discuss their experiences and expertise on this subject at our conference. By bringing together juvenile justice experts, this conference will provide a forum in which to discuss a variety of issues that our youth are faced with. The conference will bring a new dynamic to the juvenile justice debate, acting as a launch pad for regional and international initiatives designed to raise awareness of the problems facing those children who come into conflict with the law.

The conference forms part of the international "No Kids Behind Bars" campaign coordinated by DCI-Netherlands, which seeks on the one hand to reduce the number of children in prison and on the other, improve conditions for child detainees. The campaign will be presented at the conference and organizations will be invited to assist in achieving the campaign goals.

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