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The Impact of COVID-19 on Children's Access to Justice

Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic – along with previous infectious disease outbreaks – suggests that existing child protection violations are exacerbated, and new risks emerge, in times of crisis. In addition to the adverse impacts of detention and incarceration on their well-being, children risk contracting the virus when detained in confined and overcrowded spaces. They are also more vulnerable to neglect and abuse, especially if staffing levels or care are undermined by the pandemic or containment measures. Children in detention facilities often have inadequate access to clean water and sanitation, nutrition and medical care, creating conditions where the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 are rife.  Disruptions to child protection services and the justice system due to lockdowns can also cause delays in court proceedings and to legal aid and representation. It may also mean that children face long periods deprived of liberty and separated from their families. For child victims, abuse, violence and exploitation could occur with impunity, as could a child’s re-traumatization in seeking justice. Understanding the current status of justice for children is therefore essential to calling attention to immediate and long-term measures that need to be put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all children amidst the pandemic’s continuing fallout.

UNICEF, Division of Data, Analytics, Planning and Monitoring
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Gray literature
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