UN Study Finds That U.S. Has Highest Child Incarceration Rate in the World


An expert who authored a U.N. study on the treatment of children condemns Trump’s family separation policy.

Manfred Nowark, a human rights lawyer based in Vienna, Austria, authored a new U.N. study on the treatment of children and found that the U.S. has the highest child incarceration rate in the world, according to NPR

The U.N. General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 and became one of the most widely adopted human-rights agreements in the world. The U.S. remains the only country that has not ratified the treaty. 

Nowak, discussing the Trump administration policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, said, “I would call it inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children.”

“And there are still quite a number of children that are separated from their parents -- and neither the children know where the parents are, nor the parents know where the children are. So that is something that definitely should not happen again,” he added.

Nowak’s team estimates that the U.S. is still holding more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention, “about 60 out of 100,000” children, Nowak said. 

The average incarceration rate for youths in Europe is about 5 children per 100,000. Central America and the Caribbean’s rate is 16, while in South America it is 19 children per 100,000. 

“In my opinion, the way, how they were separating infants from the families only in order to deter irregular migration from Central America to the United States of America, for me, constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment, and that is absolutely prohibited” by those other international treaties, he said. “I am deeply convinced that these are violations of international law.”

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