Justice for Children
States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society. (art. 40.1 UNCRC)
Click here to obtain general information on juvenile justice and children’s rights in juvenile justice.
Through its persistent 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. 10 on Juvenile Justice (2007) – 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.
The United Nations Gobal Study on Children Deprived of Liberty
DCI’s main priority for the advancement of justice for children remains the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty (GSCDL).
In 2014, DCI launched a campaign and lobbied for the UN General Assembly to pass, in a resolution, the request for a Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty to be commissioned – which ultimately proved a success (A/RES/69/157 para.52. d.). In 2017, DCI continued to play a key role in leading the way forward for the effective implementation of the Study by means of working with the Independent Expert for the Study and the United Nations to ensure “voluntary contributions” be provided in support of the Study’s realization. DCI, as co-convener of the NGO Panel for the Study (presently composed of 144 human rights organizations from across the globe), also worked closely within its NGO network to ensure the Study obtained support and was maintained as priority on political agendas. After a year spent largely on fundraising, the end of 2017 saw contributions by a number of member States, as well as a private foundations, supply funds for the Study’s implementation.
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 here.
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.