Control and Repression Methods
Control and repression methods are the main approaches States take to insecurity, violence, and organized crime. These policies fail to take into account the structural causes of the problem.
These short-term hardline policies do not meet the mandate of providing comprehensive protection to children and do not take children’s best interests into account; nor are such policies able to provide effective, lasting solutions to the problem.
In the absence of a more comprehensive approach in terms of causes, policies based on control and repression have turned out to be ineffective. They have generated more violence, exacerbated other already existing problems, and in many cases entailed human rights violations and effects that are counterproductive to the rule of law and the legitimacy of institutions.
Militarization of Citizen Security in the Americas
States in the Americas, in general, have shifted toward increasingly militarized police forces and operations, and have assigned internal security tasks to the army to address the challenges posed by the lack of citizen security.
The history of the Americas shows that, broadly speaking, the intervention of the armed forces in internal security matters is accompanied by violations of human rights.
States must restrict to the maximum extent the use of armed forces to control domestic disturbances, since they are trained to fight against enemies and not to protect and control civilians, a task that is typical of police forces.
I/A Court H. R., Case of Montero Aranguren et Al. (Retén de Catia) v. Venezuela. Judgment of July 5, 2006. Serie C No. 150. para. 78.
Juvenile Justice: Punitive Response and Incarceration
States continue to give priority to punitive and retributive responses through the criminal justice system and deprivation of liberty, locking up juvenile offenders in very precarious conditions and exposing them to situations of abuse and violence in prison.
Offenders rather than Victims
Violations of their Rights
Lowering the Age of Criminal Responsibility
Lengthening Prison Sentences
Overcrowding and Lack of Safety and Health
Restorative, Not Retributive, Justice
Overextended Judicial System
Lack of Social and Educational Programs
Towards a Model of Restorative Justice
A widespread problem in the Americas is the scant availability of restorative justice measures and alternatives to incarceration for adolescent offenders, geared toward effective rehabilitation and the reintegration of adolescents into society.
Drug Policies from a Children's Rights Perspective
Drug policies pursued in the Americas attempt to deal with the problem by adopting a primarily repressive approach to drugs at every stage in the chain: production, distribution and sale, and in many countries drug use as well. The main tools used to enforce these policies are the criminal justice system and government security forces.
The current approach to drug policy is characterized by:
Gravity of the Crimes
Lack of a Health Perspective
Disproportionality of Penalties
Cooptation through Drug Use and Addiction
Adolescents Deprived of Liberty
Increase in Incarcerations
Lack of Gun Control
There are an inordinate number of firearms in circulation in the Americas.
Approximately two-thirds of all homicides committed in the region involve firearms, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Access to firearms is easy due to the large number of legal and illegal firearms in the hands of private individuals and deficient regulations to control and reduce both weapons and ammunition.
Policies on the manufacturing, sale, and possession of firearms and initiatives to root out illegal arms trafficking must be crafted in such a way as to take into account the governance problems and human rights violations that arise as a result of current gun laws.
In many Countries in the Americas, it is Easy to Have Access to Firearms and Ammunition
United States is the Leading Manufacturer of Guns
Militarization of Citizen Security
The Ineffectiveness of Hardline Policies in the Americas
Hardline strategies typically have not significantly eased the climate of insecurity. On the contrary, many countries have experienced a resurgence of violence, in addition to reported abuses, arbitrary practices, and human rights violations carried out by State security forces.
Saturation of the Justice System
Overcrowded and Precarious Prisons
Impunity in the Investigation and Punishment of Crimes against Children and Adolescents
In contexts of insecurity, many homicides and other human rights violations go unpunished. The reasons for that vary and should be addressed by States as a priority.
Lack of Due Diligence
Victims, their Families, and Witnesses do not Always Report Crimes
The perpetrators of Violent Acts are in some Cases the State's own Security Forces
There are situations in which State security agents have reportedly assaulted or threatened victims, witnesses, or relatives to dissuade them from making a complaint.
Insufficient Victim Protection Systems
States should ensure that efforts to guarantee citizen security and address organized crime are carried out within a framework of legality and the rule of law. In that sense, independent, impartial, and effective investigation and prosecution mechanisms are essential. The State's capacity to conduct quality criminal investigations with trained personnel and adequate procedural protocols should be strengthened.