Children's access to justice
Among the tens of thousands of children who have their rights violated every day in this region, only a fraction has access to a fair, timely and effective remedy. Similarly, only a fraction of children and families who are denied their right to social security and other benefits by administrative authorities or separated from their children through judicial decisions, are able to challenge the decisions in court. Certain groups – such as women, minorities and people with disabilities – generally face more challenges than others. Due to their dependent status, children are particularly vulnerable.
Children in this region face tremendous obstacles in accessing justice. They are confronted with the same barriers as other citizens but, in addition, also face specific legal and social obstacles due to their particular status as children. While children are recognized as being more vulnerable to violations of their rights, they are also the ones facing the most obstacles to accessing justice.
Justice systems in the region are generally not adapted to children’s rights. In most countries, legislation and procedures concerning the treatment of children participating in justice processes do not account for children’s rights and needs. Most countries also do not have specialized judges, prosecutors or investigators to handle cases involving children. As a result, the justice system can actually furthermore victimize children and generate more harm than redress. It also may discourage children and their families to seek justice at all.
Last updated March 2015
2014 Access to Justice
UNICEF holds an experts consultation on initial findings of pioneering research in the region on access to justice