Human rights of children deprived of liberty; improving monitoring mechanisms

Practical Guide


The project Children's Rights Behind Bars aims at fostering respect for the fundamental rights of children deprived of their liberty. In this perspective, the first European Guide on monitoring places where children are deprived of their liberty has been produced. It is a practical tool with preventive and child right-based approach.


The Guide and its explanatory brochure are available in French and in English (electronic versions or hard copies)


More information

European Conference

The European Conference, organised on 15th February 2016 at the European Economic and Social Committee (Brussels) had the general objective to present, promote and disseminate the Guide: Monitoring places where children are deprived of liberty. This event gave the floor to numerous experts of the thematic (find their presentations here) but also to the public who could interact. Pictures of the event are compiled in a gallery. All additional information regarding the Conference are gathered on the dedicated page. 



Video of presentation of the project

This video presents the project Children's Rights Behind Bars. 

In this video Benoît Van Keirsbilck talks about the statements that led to the realisation of this project and the objectives of the latter. 

Leading Funder

This project is financed by the European Commission within the framework of the Criminal Justice Programme. For more information, click here

Leading Partner

Defence for Children – Belgium is the Belgian section of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Defence for Children International, whose goal is to promote and protect children’s rights at a local, regional, national and global level. 

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Presentation of the Practical Guide

The main outcome of the program Children's Rights Behind Bars was the writing of the Practical Guide. This video presents the Guide and its importance in the monitoring of places where children are deprived of liberty.

The Experts

  • Malcolm Evans is Professor of Public International Law at the University of Bristol. He is a member and Chair of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) and currently the Vice Chair of the Meeting of Chairs of UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies. He is also a member of the Foreign Secretary’s Human Rights Advisory Group. From 2002 – 2013 he was a member of the OSCE ODIHR Advisory Council on the Freedom of Religion or Belief.
    Malcolm Evans Chairperson of the SPT, Professor of Public International Law at the University of Bristol
  • General Delegate of the French Community for the Rights of the Child Belgium since March 2008 and ENOC Chairman (2013-2014), Bernard De Vos has been director of a special service provided to young people in Brussels for more than 15 years. He has also created several innovative services in the field of youth protection and assistance and he is the author numerous books and articles on childhood and youth issues.
    Bernard de Vos Delegate of the French Community for the Rights of the Child Belgium, ENOC Chairman (2013-2014)
  • Paula Jack held the position of Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Agency Northern Ireland from 2010 until 2014. As Chief Executive she was responsible for administration and putting into practice of the primary goal of the Youth Justice Agency to reduce youth crime and to build confidence in the youth justice through the delivery of best practice initiatives in juvenile detention and in the community. She is currently on leave from her position as Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Agency in Northern Ireland, in order to work in a advisory capacity internationally, focusing on youth justice law and practices by drawing on firsthand experience of the political, structural and practical challenges faced in delivering youth justice services in Northern Ireland.
    Paula Jack Experienced justice practitioner specialising in developing and implementing best practice initiatives in youth justice systems
  • Author of several contributions on child detention and toolkits, Nikhil Roy is currently Programme Development Director at Penal Reform International (PRI), working on criminal justice reform worldwide. He has extensive experience on human rights issues, including on access to justice, alternatives to imprisonment and juvenile justice and has worked on projects in these areas around the world.
    Nikhil Roy Programme Development Director at Penal Reform International (PRI)
  • She is a founder member of the Child Rights Centre of children’s rights in Belgrade and a former member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Nevena is an internationally recognized expert in the rights of the Child and in juvenile justice (she has taught at the Serbian University of Belgrade). Her unique multidisciplinary approach and her expertise on international standards in human rights make her contribution to this project extremely valuable.
    Nevena Vuckovic Former member of the CRC. Founding member of the Child Rights Centre – Belgrade
  • He is an expert in child rights recognized by the Council of Europe (he was one of the experts who participated in the drafting of the Guidelines of the Council of Europe on “child-friendly justice”) and by various European governments. We found his expertise on hearings of children in court proceedings as a key asset for this project. In addition, his well-known career in the field of psychology is a different as well as necessary approach for the implementation of the project.
    Philip D. Jaffé Director, Institut universitaire Kurt Bösch, Switzerland
  • She is Professor of Criminology, Penology, Sociology of Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She has acted as an expert for the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) since 1994, monitoring places of detention all over Europe. She was a member and the chair of the Council for Penological Cooperation of the CoE (2001-2012), which drafted the 2006 European Prison Rules and the 2008 European Rules for juvenile offenders subject to sanctions or measures.
    Sonja Snacken Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. Former expert from the CPT
  • Professor of Children’s Rights, he publishes widely on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding the situation of children at the national level. He is also in charge of consultancies for international organisations, including different agencies within the United Nations and the Council of Europe, in particular on issues related to children’s rights, juvenile justice, child-friendly justice, child protection and alternative care, and violence against children.
    Ton Liefaard Holds the UNICEF Chair, Professor of Children's Rights, Leiden University, Law School, Netherlands
  • She is a researcher in children's rights and specialized in the field of juvenile justice and detention. She has published numerous books and articles on juvenile justice and has undertaken important research concerning children in judicial proceedings and children deprived of their liberty. In 2010, she undertook a broad European consultation with children about their experiences for the Council of Europe and has also participated in the implementation of the Guidelines on child-friendly justice.
    Ursula Kilkelly Professor of Law at the University College Cork, Head of the Faculty of Law
  • She is an expert on the functioning of the UN mechanisms in practice. She is in regular contact with the members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child with whom she has an excellent relationship. Ileana represents DCI on the United Nations Interagency Panel on Juvenile Justice (IPJJ). Her strategic position and her role in Geneva will be essential to coordinating the collection of information and expertise within various bodies and NGOs, which is essential for this project.
    Ileana Bello Executive Director at DCl's International Secretariat
  • She is member of General Control of places of deprivation of liberty (penal institutions, psychiatric hospitals, secure supervision centres administrative detention centres in particular), i.e. the French national prevention mechanism aiming to ensure that the fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty are respected. In this context, the special situation of children deprived of liberty remains of particular concern. Previously, she was a delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross, for which was in charge of child protection programmes.
    Anne-Sophie Bonnet Controller at the General Control of places of deprivation of liberty

The Partners

About the project

"Children's Rights Behind Bars" aims at improving the implementation of international juvenile justice standards to protect the rights and needs of children deprived of their liberty. The project will culminate in a practical Guide to be used by professionals when visiting places of deprivation of liberty, particularly juvenile detention facilities.

Our funders




Defence for Children International - Belgium

Rue du Marché aux Poulets 30, 1000 Brussels
+ 32 (0) 2 203 79 08
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