Each year hundreds of thousands of children across the EU are involved in legal proceedings. Justice systems need to do more to cater to the needs of these children, finds the latest report from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Making justice more child-friendly is in the best interests of the child, improves child protection and their meaningful participation in judicial proceedings.
Access the full report: Child-friendly justice – perspectives and experiences of professionals >>
“We cannot allow children to be confused or stressed when they participate in judicial proceedings,” says FRA’s interim Director Constantinos Manolopoulos. “The EU and its Member States have an obligation to ensure that child rights are respected and fulfilled. This is especially the case for judicial proceedings. Member States should also ensure that the Council of Europe guidelines on child-friendly justice are applied in daily practice by everyone involved.”
Improving child rights’ protection in judicial systems is addressed by the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which all EU Member States have ratified. The Council of Europe produced special guidelines on child-friendly justice because this is an issue which affects many children. For example, around 74,000 children were victims of crime and 495,000 were affected by divorce in 11 EU Member States in 2010.
FRA research reveals that child participation practices vary widely not just across, but also within, Member States, and these practices are not always child-friendly. This points to a need for clear and consistent standards and guidelines which should be systematically monitored. The research also identified the need for awareness raising measures and the special training of professionals.
The key findings relate to specific child rights, for example:
The report also highlights a number of examples of promising practices.
To read the report and related material: Child-friendly justice – perspectives and experiences of professionals, see the press pack.
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