IACHR Publishes Thematic Report
Violence, Children and Organized Crime
Children and adolescents are one of the groups most impacted by the various forms of violence and violations of rights, as well as by organized crime.
Government responses are inadequate to sufficiently protect children, guarantee their rights, and prevent them from being recruited, used, and exploited by organized crime.
Policies for controlling and repressing criminal groups have led to frequent abuses and arbitrary practices carried out by law enforcement against adolescents.
Adolescents are Often Stigmatized by Society
Male teens from poor and marginal neighborhoods who belong to traditionally excluded social sectors are generally blamed for the atmosphere of insecurity and singled out as “potential dangers to society” who must be brought under control.
The consequences of this include:
Lowering the Age of Criminal Responsibility
Arbitrary and Illegal use of Force
The Reality Experienced by These Adolescents can be Daunting
Many adolescents are victims of violence, abuse, and neglect in their homes, communities, and schools, at the hands of adults, peers, or even the police.
The quality of education is poor and there are many barriers to accessing higher education, work opportunities, and decent employment.
Children and adolescents often fall victim to pressure, threats, or trickery to get them to join these criminal organizations or violent groups.
Control and Repression Policies
Current hardline policies fail to take into account the specific consequences of these environments for adolescents who are unprotected and exposed to being captured and used by organized crime, becoming involved in violent and criminal activities, or becoming victims of such activities.
States not only have the obligation both to respect and not to violate human rights; they must also take the appropriate measures to ensure that such rights can be effectively enjoyed
Preventive, Holistic, and Comprehensive Approach
A more preventive, holistic, and comprehensive approach to the problem is needed, one founded on the protection and respect of human rights. In this context, children and adolescents must be seen first as victims of a series of successive violations of their rights.
Punitive and Retributive Responses
When it comes to adolescents who commit crimes, States tend to prioritize a punitive and retributive approach through the criminal justice system and incarceration, to the detriment of rehabilitation and social reintegration programs.
Restorative Justice Programs
Restorative justice programs that hold adolescents responsible for their actions without subjecting them to the prison system are almost nonexistent in the Americas.