Protecting Migrant Children
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Protecting Migrant Children

In Search of Best Practice

Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson

Unprecedented numbers of children are crossing international borders seeking safety. Framed around compelling case studies explaining why children are on the move in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania, this book explores the jurisprudence and processes used by nations to adjudicate children’s protection claims. The book includes contributions from leading scholars in immigration, refugee law, children’s rights and human trafficking which critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of international and domestic laws with the aim of identifying best practice for migrant children.
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Chapter 19: Detention as a last resort: the implications of the Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No. 35

Gerald L. Neuman

Abstract

Improper confinement of children in migration contexts – unnecessary, prolonged or in harmful conditions – is a severe and troubling phenomenon. In that regard, the UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No. 35 (2014) summarizes the treaty body’s interpretation of the right to liberty of person, including protection against arbitrary detention, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of the principal human rights treaties at the global level. This chapter describes the Human Rights Committee’s approach to detention of migrants, including child migrants. It explains why General Comment No. 35 employs a broad definition of ‘detention’, and the resulting need for a nuanced and non-absolutist approach to the ‘detention’ of children in migration contexts. Such ‘detention’ is not invariably arbitrary, but rather should be used only as a measure of last resort, and for the shortest appropriate period of time.

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