Child-Friendly Justice in Action !

The diversity of justice systems in Europe is a major issue. Respect for children’s rights in the field of justice for children is relatively heterogeneous, while all European countries have signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Furthermore, juvenile justice systems in European countries remain insufficiently adapted to children. Youth protection and juvenile justice professionals lack capacity and skills in this area. This system does not allow the young person to internalize the values and principles of society.

Children come into contact with the justice system in many different ways. This can be for family matters such as divorce or adoption, in administrative justice for nationality or immigration issues or in criminal justice as victims, witnesses or perpetrators of crimes. They may also need to reach a justice system seeking for remedies when their rights are not fully respected. When faced with the justice system, children are thrown into an intimidating adult world they often don’t understand. Adapting justice to their needs is therefore a necessity.

The Council of Europe and the European Union have in the recent years developed an innovative approach in adopting various standards, guidelines and directives in the field of child-friendly justice. These standards aim at improving the justice system and adapting it to the specific needs of children. This entails creating a justice system which guarantees respect for and the effective implementation of all children’s rights. However these standards, that are still quite recent, are not enough disseminated and known by professionals working directly or indirectly with children in contact with the justice system.

The objectives of the project are to :

  • Make sure that the voice of children is heard in litigation; guarantee the participation of children in all proceedings involving them;
  • Advocate for an adaptation of the judicial systems in line with children’s rights;
  • Make sure that the best interest of the child is taken in consideration also when the child is not directly concerned;
  • Strengthening capacities of professionals working directly or indirectly with children in contact with the judicial system.

Main activities are:

  • Mapping of good practices and existing tools in terms of child-friendly justice;
  • Need analysis of professionals working directly or indirectly with children in contact with the justice system;
  • Participative workshops with children concerning their needs/expectation/experience of the judicial system for children in each country (child participation);
  • Writing of a toolkit on child-friendly justice including the mapping of good practices and existing tools in child-friendly justice; recommendations based on the need analysis of professionals; and recommendations based on the results of the participative workshops with children.

The methodology used is based on a bottom-up approach which will enable us to extract not only the professionals’ needs working in the field but also the children’s needs in contact with justice.

The target audience are the youth workers in contact with young people in touch with the justice system and young people who were or are still in contact with justice.

The project results will be widely disseminated in each country to youth workers, who will be better informed about the principles of child-friendly justice and will thus be better able to take them into account in their daily practices with young people. The project will have a great impact on the justice system by contributing to make it more child-friendly.

Partners

DCI-Belgium (coordinator), DCI-World Service, DCI-Greece, DCI-Spain, DCI-Italy, DCI-France, DCI-Czech Republic, DCI-Netherlands

Duration

1 October 2018 – 30 September 2020

Contact person

Laurent Beauthier - Project Manager

laurent.beauthier at defensedesenfants.be