This article explores the impacts of the response to COVID-19 on the rights of children in conflict with the law. It focuses on three significant rights issues: responding to all children as children (UNCRC, Article 1); non-discrimination (UNCRC, Article 2) and deprivation of liberty as a last resort (UNCRC, Article 37). Completing a Child Right's Impact Assessment, a structured approach to considering children's rights issues, helped us identify the key concerns around these three UNCRC articles. We argue that, while the COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated an erosion of children's rights for those in conflict with the law, the response to the pandemic has primarily compounded and illuminated pre-existing rights issues. It has also further hidden from view some children and their experiences. If we are to ensure that rights are respected, especially in future crisis scenarios, we need to ensure that upholding rights is not perceived as optional. This suggests greater efforts are needed to challenge deep-rooted societal and professional attitudes towards children in conflict with the law and their rights; to address fundamental societal inequalities, and; to strengthen the ability to challenge when rights are not respected.


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Cite as

Dyer, F., Lightowler, C. & Vaswani, N. 2022, 'Exacerbating, illuminating and hiding rights issues: COVID-19 and children in conflict with the law', International Journal of Human Rights. https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2022.2060205

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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