Children and the law
© UNICEF Bangladesh/2006/Noorani
Children like these boys, asleep in a train station, are often treated as criminals rather than children in need of protection. Legislative reform and law enforcement training will help ensure the rights of children living on the streets. Dhaka division.C
In 2004, following advocacy efforts by UNICEF, the minimum age of criminal responsibility was raised from seven to nine. Enforcement remains difficult because many children have no proof of their age due to low levels of birth registration.
UNICEF supports government efforts to harmonize domestic legislation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other international standards. As part of this undertaking, a new Children’s Code will legislate all CRC rights and principles not found in other national legislation. The new legislation will cover the rights of all children to health, education, participation and protection and enable enforcement of the CRC in Bangladesh.
UNICEF has also supported the Government to amend the 1974 Children Act – which covers children in conflict with the law and children in need of protection – in line with the CRC. UNICEF is advocating for the establishment of an independent body or commissioner for child rights.
UNICEF is working towards a child-friendly justice system that diverts children in contact with the law to appropriate social support services, instead of depriving them of liberty in detention centres.
To sensitize the legal and law enforcement communities to international child rights and standards of justice for children, UNICEF supports multisectoral training for judges, magistrates, police officers, probation officers, lawyers, social workers and staff in institutions. UNICEF assists the Government to coordinate UN, NGO and government partners working for justice for children.
Download the Juvenile justice factsheet.