Justice for Children

Through its constant work over the past almost four decades – from participating in the drafting of the UN Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (1985) to the follow-up of the UNCRC’s General Comment No. 24 on Children’s Rights in the Child Justice System (2019, available now in EN/FR/ES) – DCI has become the “go-to” nongovernmental organisation for leadership, experience, and technical expertise on Justice for Children.

DCI’s works to ensure that the conditions of children within justice systems to be internationally acknowledged; to place children within the frame of justice as a priority on international, regional and national agendas; and to see that national child-friendly justice systems are established, guided by the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and all other relevant international, regional, and national norms and standards.

Despite the increasing national and international attention on this issue, the level of political will to ensure compliance with international norms and standards remains low.  Pursuing the protection and respect of human rights of children involved in the justice system remains a huge challenge. DCI – with its multi-level structure – is in a unique position to change the situation of children in contact with the law, and to ensure all children are able to access justice on an equal basis.

DCI-IS is an active member of the Child Justice Advocacy Group and of Child Rights Connect’s Working Group on Children with Incarcerated Parents, which link key nongovernmental organisations working towards justice for children for the purposes of discussing and strategizing on common actions and critical issues. We also conduct advocacy with international and regional human rights mechanisms such as the Human Rights Council.

Through its National Sections, DCI has found that Socio-Legal Defence Centres (SLDCs) prove extremely effective in providing children with the opportunity to effectively access justice and obtain remedies. SLDCs proactively promote, and reactively protect, the human rights of children as codified in the UNCRC –. SLDCs provide direct access to justice for children in conflict with the law, child victims and witnesses, and adults confronted with child rights violations.  These services are further accompanied by corresponding social and legal support in the form of: information provision, referrals to other service providers, psychological counselling, and free of charge legal advice and representation.

DCI’s flagship project, the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, forms a core part of our work on Justice for Children. Further information can be found under “Deprivation of Liberty.”

DCI-Belgium, DCI-Italy and DCI-Netherlands are working together to protect the rights of children deprived of their liberty through the project “My Lawyer, My Rights.” This project advocates for the proper implementation and effective monitoring of European directives on the right of the access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings; on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings; on the right to interpretation and translation; and on the right to information. In 2017, the role of the lawyer for children in the EU member states and their juvenile justice systems was mapped, and an online data base was created to enable easy access to this information. Throughout the year around 500 youth lawyers, officials and policy makers were trained via this project.