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The project looks at the treatment of children in the justice systems of the European Union (EU), which is an important issue of concern for EU institutions and Member States. The research will identify forms of child participation in justice proceedings, as well as collecting promising practices, in 10 EU Member States. The research will mainly be based on interviews with professionals who work with children in such proceedings.
Practices of child participation in justice proceedings vary considerably across EU Member States. There are gaps in relation to clear, consistent standards and guidelines on how and when children should be involved. In 2011, the European Commission (EC) highlighted in the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child that promoting child-friendly justice is at the centre of its actions. Therefore, in close cooperation with the EC and following a relevant request, the FRA is engaging in research to examine practices and procedures of child participation in justice proceedings which should conform to the Council of Europe guidelines on child-friendly justice.
The FRA network of national focal points across the EU, Franet, will carry out the fieldwork for this qualitative research in the following EU Member States: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the EU acceding country Croatia. Interviews will be carried out with judges, prosecutors, court staff, legal counsellors, lawyers, guardians or other legal representatives, mediators, and law enforcement officials. Staff of social service providers and NGOs, as well as professionals such as psychologists and social workers will also be interviewed.
FRA social scientists and legal experts will carry out the data analysis, presenting the main findings in a comparative report on child participation in justice proceedings in selected Member States. The analysis will be complemented by desk research.