U.S. has highest child detention rate, according to human rights expert

NEW YORK CITY (NBC) – The author of a U.S. study says the United States has the highest rate of incarcerating children worldwide, including more than 100,000 under 18 who are held in immigration-related custody that violates international law.

According to Austrian human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak, the independent expert presenting the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, worldwide more than seven million children are held in prisons and police custody, including 330,000 due to their immigration status.

The study said children should only be detained as a measure of last resort and for the shortest time possible.

Nowak said U.S. child migrants’ detention was an “inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children,” noting that the United States is the only country in the world not to have ratified that pact, he said it has ratified major international treaties such as those guaranteeing civil and political rights and banning torture.

The expert said the United States detains an average of 60 out of every 100,000 children in either its justice system or immigration-related custody. He said the U.S. rate compared with an average of about five per 100,000 in western Europe and 14 to 15 in Canada.

Nowak added that at least 29,000 children, mainly linked to ISIS fighters, are held in northern Syria and in Iraq with French citizens among the biggest group of foreigners.

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