From the inside: Children and young people on life in police cells and in remand prisons

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Ombudsman for Children in Sweden

For a number of years, the  Ombudsman for Children in Sweden has been systematically listening to children and young people in vulnerable situations. To learn about how authorities apply the rights of children and young people on the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), The Ombudsman for Children has visited a total of 13 police cell blocks and remand prisons around the country, asking  questions about what happens and what a child thinks when he/she is deprived of liberty.  The children described how the solitary confinement causes severe damage. Self-harm and suicidal thoughts recur in several accounts. The treatment the children describe varies, but can be summarized as cold, impersonal or downright frightening. From the accounts, it emerges that counsels have not always been present at interrogations. One reason for this is that the young people themselves choose to waive that right because they believe it will increase their chances to leave the police cell earlier.

Several changes are necessary in order for Sweden to be able to live up to the CRC. The present report submits proposals to the government to take the necessary measures.

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