For Every Child- The Right to Child Sensitive Investigations and a Fair Trial

Every child, any person below 18 years, has the right to child-friendly justice.

03 March 2023
Child out of focus
UNICEF Sri Lanka/Earl Jayasuriya

Children come into contact with the law for various reasons – as defendants or witnesses in criminal proceedings; as victims of physical or sexual abuse; and as parties in civil or administrative proceedings. The outcomes of these cases can change the course of a child’s life. In the short term they maybe placed in pre-trial detention and prevented from continuing their education. If they are detained with adults, they are more likely to be subjected to violence and abuse. In the longer-term, children in detention and children in residential care miss out on the regular contact with their families and the possibility to re-integrate into normal life in their community.  

Justice systems need to guarantee the respect and the effective implementation of all children’s rights, even for children who have allegedly infringed the law. Child-friendly justice is justice that is accessible, age appropriate, speedy, diligent, adapted to and focused on the needs and rights of the child, including due process, to participate in and understand the proceedings, to respect for private and family life and to integrity and dignity.[1]

One important building block for a child-friendly justice system is for children to have access to expert, specialized and trusted legal practitioners. Such practitioners can make an enormous difference to a child’s experience of the justice system and to the outcome of the case.

The media and the public also play a vital role in ensuring child-friendly justice, by refraining from sharing information and opinions in the press and on social media, thereby helping protect the integrity and dignity of the child as well as avoid influencing an ongoing criminal investigation and the right to a fair trial.

[1] Source: Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child friendly justice (2010)


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Bismarck Swangin
UNICEF Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 777236548

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About UNICEF Sri Lanka

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF Sri Lanka, visit