Justice for children

UNICEF is working to ensure equitable access to justice for all children and to support the country to establish a child-friendly justice system which works in the best interest of the child, focusing on the most disadvantaged children and families.

UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2018

Children face the justice system as victims or witnesses, because they are in conflict with the law, or as parties in civil proceedings, such as in family-related cases.

A justice system that is fully harmonized with the principle of the best interest of the child is essential for all children, with a specific focus on children from disadvantaged families.
In Montenegro, UNICEF aims to support the justice system to enable children to be heard and to participate in all legal proceedings adapted to children’s needs, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized children.
We are helping to build a system adapted to children’s particular rights and needs, in which child participation is supported when decisions are made regarding their custody, care and protection.

UNICEF is supporting Montenegro to integrate equitable access to justice for children into the broader rule-of-law, democratic-governance and sustainable-development agenda.

We are contributing to improving children's access to justice, and support the Government of Montenegro in its efforts to establish a system that provides better protection of children in conflict with the law with the successful introduction of diversionary justice options and non-custodial sentencing for them where the sanction of prison should be used only as a last resort.
The goal is to ensure that juvenile justice assists children in returning to society, rather than pushing them further down the path of crime and exclusion.
Furthermore, we are working to develop an overall justice system that protects the rights and needs of all children, including those who are involved as witnesses, victims or relevant dependents, in criminal, civil or administrative proceedings. 
- Children still face important obstacles in accessing justice, including discouragement from seeking justice because of fear of negative consequences; deeply entrenched social beliefs and patterns that make it unacceptable for children to confide in an adult outside of the home; and cultural norms that reinforce the perception of a child as a passive object of care, instead of as an independent holder of rights.
- Research has shown that that vulnerable groups of children face more challenges in accessing justice, including less legal awareness and more informational barriers.
- There are still gaps and weaknesses in the delivery of justice to children, including procedures that are not child friendly and the need to enhance a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to providing support and assistance before, during and after legal proceedings.