Justice for children is a term that refers to all of the ways children encounter the justice system, whether as victims, witnesses, alleged offenders, or in cases involving their care, custody or protection. Every day, children in Bosnia and Herzegovina face deprivation and challenges to realizing their rights and yet few come forward and seek redress. Even fewer obtain an effective remedy. The comprehensive rights guaranteed to children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child lack substance unless countries have frameworks in place to ensure that children are aware of their rights, remedies are available and children can seek protection or redress for an entire range of rights violations that they might experience.
To date, reform efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina have focused on justice responses to juvenile offenders. Much less attention has been brought to how the justice system supports those children whose rights have been violated as victims of crime, part of family law related proceedings, or through contact with the justice system for any other reason.
Data on child victims of crimes is not comprehensively maintained or readily available, however data provided by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council on cases involving at least one child victim suggests that hundreds of child victims are involved in the criminal justice process each year, and that the number of reported crimes involving child victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina is increasing. It is difficult to draw conclusions about criminal offending against children without more comprehensive data disaggregated by type of offence, and gender and age of the victim. Data collection systems should be coordinated between the child protection system and criminal justice system where possible.