This October, the International NGO Council on Violence against Children (InCo) presented its latest report in New York, as a follow-up to the UN Secretary-General`s Study on Violence against Children, entitled: “Creating A Non-Violent Juvenile Justice System,” which provides extensive research that examines the current state of juvenile justice throughout the world. DCI was instrumental in the creation of this report by providing extensive data and valuable expertise.
Although the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other organisations have laid out normative standards for juvenile justice, “The governance gap between these important international standards and implementation efforts on the ground is […] wide. Countless children across regions continue to see their rights neglected by laws and institutions and endure harsh and retributive punishments that stigmatize and marginalize them further.” Identifying the myriad problems that minors in the legal system face, from psychological damage to lack of legal aid, the report highlights the rampant injustice that children face every day in legal systems.
The report also gives focus to the importance of restorative justice, a system in which child offenders are counselled and re-integrated into society in a seamless process. Most notable is the report’s comparison of the actual legal system in many countries, and an ideal, future legal system. The report walks the reader through the process children would face in each system, juxtaposing the dramatic differences between the two scenarios. For example, the report compares the reality of inexperienced police officers who deal with children as if they were adults, with the future hope that “Specialised police units” trained in children’s rights could process the juvenile detainees. Ultimately, the report offers a list of concrete recommendations to International/Regional bodies, National Governments, and Child Rights Advocates.
Among many suggestions, InCo recommends that organisations “work in partnership to build a global consensus around the non-violent juvenile justice imperative, ensuring that juvenile justice and violence against children remain at the top of the international human rights agenda. As Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Independent Expert who led the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children, stated: “Let us hope that this report feeds renewed and uncompromising advocacy to build the non-violent systems which children are entitled to.”