Justice for Children
Every child has the right to access justice
Every day, large numbers of children throughout the region enter into contact with justice systems. They are victims or witnesses of crime, have (allegedly) broken the law or are parties to civil and administrative proceedings for reasons such as care or custody. Many more children who have had their rights violated or their entitlements denied should be able to resort to justice and claim redress but do not have access.
A wealth of international standards has been developed over the past decades to promote the fair delivery of justice to children, support their capacity to grow up harmoniously and ensure that they are both heard and protected in the process. However, justice systems in the region do not fully comply with these standards. Procedures are often unadapted to the age and maturity of children, and professionals are not trained to interact in a child-friendly manner. As a result, justice systems sometimes end up generating further harm than redress.
Certain groups of children are particularly affected. Children from minorities and poor family backgrounds, children with disabilities or children engaged in substance abuse or other risk behaviours are more likely to be denied access to justice than others. They are also overrepresented in criminal justice systems and in detention.
Justice for children is a broader term that includes all those who are in contact with the law, for whatever reason.
The juvenile justice system deals with children in conflict with the law, i.e. children alleged of, accused of or recognized as having committed an offense.
Access to justice is the ability to obtain a just and timely remedy for violations of rights as put forth in national and international norms and standards including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Last updated 25 September 2014
Children's equitable access to justice - Regional study
2014 Access to Justice
UNICEF holds an experts consultation on initial findings of pioneering research in the region on access to justice
Access to Justice Regional Study
The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) in partnership with UNICEF is engaged in a nine month research project on this topic in Albania, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Montenegro