Children and justice in the time of COVID-19: IBCR speaks to the Canadian Government

On February 4th, the IBCR addressed the Canadian Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to highlight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children living in situations of conflict, crisis and displacement.

The IBCR, through the voice of its Director General, adressed the importance of the changing relationship between children and justice in a context of conflict, crisis or fragility due to the pandemic.

Indeed, the measures taken to limit the spread of the virus greatly impact the lives of children, especially restrictions such as school closures or curfews. In some parts of the world, for example, there is an increase in the number of interactions between children and security forces deployed to ensure compliance with these new rules.

[In the context of the pandemic], the [already] thin line between misdemeanour, crime and normality is shrinking, and children find themselves in conflict with the law for a variety of reasons.

Guillaume Landry, Director General of the IBCR

It can be seen that the so-called “front-line” professions (i.e. those working directly with children) face many constraints linked to COVID- 19, which directly affect the lives of children: reduction in the number of professionals, their ability to move around, or limitation in the quality of their services. Children are then left more to themselves, which makes them more vulnerable to abuse. This is also true with new technologies: monitoring children’s activities online is more difficult for parents or schools, which increases the risks of exposure to human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Moreover, it is not only children who lose their bearings during the pandemic, parents are also affected, socially and economically. These particular circumstances can contribute to exacerbating acts of domestic violence and violence against children.

The pandemic brings its share of negative consequences on the lives of children around the world and it is in this context that the IBCR continues to work every day to promote the respect of the rights of all children.

* This hearing was part of a study by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to gather information on the vulnerabilities created and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in situations of conflict, crisis and fragility, with a view to anticipating and forecasting possible future pandemics. The IBCR took part in the meeting at the invitation of the Committee, together with War Child Canada and the Mission for International Justice Canada.


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