Access to justice

UNICEF is constantly involved in policy advocacy with the Government of Armenia and public awareness raising to enhance the understanding of the access to justice.

An adolescent boy reading the bible in front of the window in the penitentiary institution
UNICEF Armenia/2018/Sokhin

The challenge

Armenia lacks comprehensive juvenile justice system and the broader notion of access to justice for children

Advocating and raising the awareness on the rights of children whose rights have been violated: UNICEF is constantly involved in policy advocacy with the Government of Armenia and public awareness raising to enhance the understanding of the access to justice for children.

UNICEF is the region’s leading advocate for juvenile justice reform, but our approach goes beyond care for children accused of crimes: we also promote equitable access to justice for all children whose rights have been violated.

By ratifying the CRC Armenia committed to ensure that the rights of children are protected and all the children have equitable access to justice - ability to obtain fair, timely and effective remedy for violations of rights. However, most children whose rights are violated do not reach the justice system both because the mechanisms and procedures are underdeveloped and not child-friendly and because children are not aware of their rights and options of where to seek redress, are dependent on adults who do not always act in the best interests of the child. As a result, even existing remedies are not fully available to children. Access to justice for children is also negatively affected by social and cultural beliefs.

 

Important

A 17-year old boy playing checkers with the security guard in "Noubarashen" penitentiary institution for adolescents.

While criminal cases involving child offenders are handled by specialized police officers and tried by specialized judges, there is still lack of knowledge and training for dealing with children and no specialization for investigators and prosecutors. The legislation on child victims and witnesses is not compliant with UN and other international standards and best practices, justice professionals lack the skills of working with child victims and witnesses of crime.

Adolescents read books in the Probation Centre

Children are treated more like “objects” of care, than “right-holders”. Legislation and practice in administrative and civil procedure does not fully reflect the concept of the best interests of the child.. Coordination between state bodies in early identification and prevention of the cases of violence against children remains weak, the referral mechanism is underdeveloped, no systematic data is collected on the cases of violence against children.

The solution

UNICEF works with the Government, donors and civil society and UN agencies to put the system in place

Equitable access to justice for all children of Armenia is possible if a child friendly justice system is in place and all children, including the most vulnerable, know about their rights and enabled to seek redress and receive support. UNICEF works with the Government, donors and civil society, as well as in cooperation with other UN agencies to put the system in place:

Legislation: UNICEF provides advise and expertise on legislation, regulating access to justice for children, including to Criminal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Code of Civil Procedure, Law on the Rights of the Child and other relevant pieces of legislation to ensure that it is compliant with UN standards and international best practices.

Support to the Council on Access to Justice for Children: UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Justice in establishment and further strengthening of the multi-sectorial and multi-stakeholder platform for interagency cooperation – the Council on Access to Justice for Children – to promote coordinated approach to solution of issues with respect to equitable access to justice for every child.

Building the capacity of justice professionals: UNICEF supports the Academy of Justice in development and incorporation of the training programmes on different aspects of the rights of children in contact with the law (including distance learning courses) into the curriculum of the Academy, training judges, prosecutors and investigators. UNICEF works with the Police to support capacity building of the police officers in dealing with matters involving children.

Supporting the Human Rights Defender’s Office: UNICEF has contributed to the establishment of a Special Unit on Child Rights at the HRDO and is continuously working on introduction of child-friendly complaint mechanism and development of capacity of the HRDO to effectively monitor the child rights and respond to the cases of violation.

Advocating and raising the awareness on the rights of children whose rights have been violated: UNICEF is constantly involved in policy advocacy with the Government of Armenia and public awareness raising to enhance the understanding of the access to justice for children.

Why are these efforts needed?

Icon Reporting - picture of a paper with a pencil

There is no single case where a child has applied to the HRDO for redress although the legislation allows for that.

Icon_children_boy and girl hand in hand

There are very few cases where courts have applied and interpreted the concept of best interests of the child in their judgements.

icon_ a children's hand on the grown up hand

Children in contact with the law do not receive any psycho-social support and services for victims and witnesses of violence are not available.

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No data on most aspects of access to justice for children is collected and analyzed.