European Prisoners’ Children Week 2013 runs from 3 through 10 June.
During this week, the member organisations of Eurochips coordinate awareness-raising events at their national level for the rights of children of imprisoned parents.
The online petition and tools run throughout the entire month of June, with the e-petition closing on 28 June.
The intention is that the entire month of June is used to raise awareness and campaign virtually for the right of these children to maintain contact with their imprisoned parent – and for legislation to exist in order to support this right.
Children separated from an imprisoned parent have a right to well-being and family contact, as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Studies show that regular quality contact with an imprisoned parent helps promote resilience in most children.
Yet national policies across Europe are lagging in terms of ensuring this quality contact, despite the significant number of children involved—nearly 1 million affected by parental incarceration on a given day each year.
Progress needs to be achieved to protect these vulnerable children in law and national policies. Yet policies can only be effective if they are grounded in good practice.
By enlisting the support of Jean Lambert, MEP via an international petition, they aim to promote both the rights to family contact and well-being of these children; and national policies grounded in good practice that help meet their needs.
These include more flexible visits hours for children visiting a parent in prison, so they don’t interfere with school hours; and promoting welcoming, comfortable visits environments in prisons. Regular telephone contact should be encouraged, as should child impact statements during sentencing, to ensure that a parent is sent to a prison near the child’s home.
These and other good practice initiatives should be promoted throughout Europe.
Help is needed on raising awareness on the rights and needs of these children.