Policy guidelines issued to protect children of imprisoned parents

Date: 24th April 2018
Category: Special protection measures

The Council of Europe has issued policy guidelines to its 47 member states aimed at safeguarding the rights and interests of children of imprisoned parents.

A recommendation was adopted by the Council of Ministers recalling that children with imprisoned parents are entitled to the same rights as other children. This includes having regular contact with their parents, except if it is considered contrary to the child's best interests. The Committee of Ministers stressed that maintaining child-parent relations can positively impact the child and also the imprisoned parent and the prison staff. It also helps to better prepare the prisoner for release and social reintegration.

Around 2.1 million children in Europe have one of their parents in prison and this may result in them experiencing trauma, stigma, and anxiety.

The recommendation includes guidelines such as:

  • Children with imprisoned parents shall be treated with respect for their human rights and with due regard for their particular situation and needs.
  • The rights and best interests of any affected child should be taken into consideration when a custodial sentence of a parent who is a primary caregiver is being contemplated.
  • Whenever a parent is detained, particular consideration shall be given to allocating them to a facility close to their children.
  • Read the full recommendations here.