TORONTO, Oct. 4, 2016 /CNW/ - Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is urging the federal government to cease the detainment – and separation – of children from their detained parents, after a new report found that an average of 242 children were detained annually in Canada between 2010 and 2014.
"No Life for a Child: A Roadmap to End Immigration Detention of Children and Family Separation" by the University of Toronto's International Human Rights Program, found that detaining children as "guests" of their detained parents in "punitive conditions" violates their rights, causes significant psychological distress and may expose children to the child welfare system. The report is based on interviews with detained refugees, asylum seekers, Canadian citizens and non-citizens, as well as mental health experts, social workers, legal professionals and children's rights activists.
"I call on the federal government to take a child-centred, community-based approach to immigration detention," said Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. "As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Canada must remember children have the right to not be separated from their parents. A child detained as a 'guest' does not speak to the spirit of the Convention."
These alternative, community-based approaches to detention, the report suggests, include "enforcing specific reporting obligations, the use of cash bonds or guarantors, and suitable risk management for more complex cases."
Elman says the current practice in Canada of detaining children in detention facilities and separating them from their detained parents causes lasting harm to a child's well-being, and runs counter to their best interests and rights.
"There are viable alternatives, and it is about making decisions that respect and upholds a child's rights," said Elman. "I urge our prime minister to act now."
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools).
The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement. For more information, visit: www.provincialadvocate.on.ca. For updates, read the Advocate's Blog and follow us on https://www.youtube.com/user/ProvincialAdvocate/featured, Twitter and Facebook.
SOURCE Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
For further information: Media Contact: Akihiko Tse, Communications, Media Relations Coordinator, (416)-325-5994, firstname.lastname@example.org, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth