ABOUT THE END CHILD DETENTION CAMPAIGN
At the 19th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2012, the Global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children was launched with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This year the Campaign is focusing on seven countries: Australia, Greece, Mexico, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa and the United States. Countries have been chosen for inclusion in the campaign based on the extent to which immigration detention of children is an issue, combined with the commitment of local civil society groups. The focus on each country will last for one month, during which Campaign workers, along with members of local organisations will set up different activities in support of the Campaign.
Also, South African law prohibits the detention of children for immigration reasons and their removal from South African territory without a court decision. However, in practice, large and increasing numbers of children and minors are being detained in police stations and deported, without legal safeguards or overview of their best interests. It has been reported that between October and December 2011, 86 children between the ages of 2-17 years were deported to Zimbabwe, one of the most common countries where children are sent back.
Human rights groups are raising major concerns about the conditions of the main detention centre, the Lindela Repatriation Centre. In 2005, the courts ruled that children may only be detained as a matter of last resort and that Lindela was not fit for the detention of children. Since then, women with children have mostly been detained in separate shelters, although there are still sporadic cases of children being detained at Lindela. Human rights groups are also concerned about the emergence of unregistered children’s shelters, as well as reports of physical abuse, neglect and long-term detention in such shelters.
Members of the general public can sign a global petition, calling for an end to immigration detention of children, which will be presented to the Human Rights Council in a year’s time www.endchilddetention.org.