UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty: putting health on the agenda

Project Details


Children deprived of liberty are an invisible and largely forgotten group. The number of children deprived of liberty around the world is unknown, and the circumstances surrounding their detention are poorly understood. However, a large number of children are placed in inhumane conditions and in adult facilities, where they may be at risk of violence and sexual assault, acts of torture, and cruel or degrading treatment or punishment. Nonetheless, the physical and mental health of children deprived of liberty, and the impacts of deprivation of liberty on their health and development, have never been the subject of systematic inquiry at the global level.

Lead by Independent Expert Manfred Nowak, UN Global Study of Children Deprived of Liberty was developed to collect data about the situation of children deprived of liberty, assess implementation of applicable international laws and standards, identify good practices and formulate recommendations for action at national, regional and international level. Following consultation with stakeholders and with research leaders, it was determined that health should be included in the Global Study as a cross-cutting theme. Professor Stuart Kinner was invited to serve as the focal point for health in the Global Study.

This project involved a series of rapid reviews the health status of children and adolescents deprived of liberty, in 4 of the 5 settings considered in the Global Study.

The Study included five thematic clusters, each associated with a settings-based research working group:

1. Criminal justice / juvenile justice / administrative detention;*

2. Migration / asylum seeking;

3. Children in detention with their parents;

4. Protection / associated with disability, health or substance abuse;

5. Association with armed groups and/or national security.

*This setting is already the subject of a comprehensive systematic review being prepared by Prof Kinner.


Stuart Kinner

Louise Southalan

Rohan Borschmann

Melissa Willoughby

Emilia Janca


Prof Manfred Nowak, University of Vienna

Prof Nathan Hughes, University of Sheffield

A/Prof Huw Williams, University of Exeter

Georges Younes, University of Vienna

Manu Krishan, University of Vienna


MCRI theme funding: $25,000 (2018-2019)

Research Group

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Centre for Health Equity

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