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Council of Europe: over two million boys and girls have a parent in prison. “Protecting inmates’ children’s rights and interests”

(Strasbourg) In Europe, 2.1 million children have one parent in prison, as revealed today by the Council of Europe, so they live in a “situation that can cause traumas, stigma, anxiety, lack of parental care and loss of financial support, which may damage their wellbeing and development”. So, the Committee of Ministers of the CoE published a Recommendation for the attention of the 47 member states, in which they give a few guidelines about how to “protect inmates’ children’s rights and interests”, in the awareness that in these cases protecting the children’s relationship with their parents “can have beneficial effects on the children as well as on the parents who are in prison” and on the prison’s environment. The document provides guidelines to protect the children’s sensitivity in specific situations, for instance in the event of arrest or visits to parents in prison. For instance, they say that the place of detention must be as near as possible to the child’s address or that children can have regular contacts with their parents, even through virtual media; that specific agents should be identified and trained to take care of convicts who have children. Some recommendations are about the relations with the schools and the protection of privacy, the cases of very young children who live with their mothers in prison; all recommendations are based on the principle of the “best interest of the child”.

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