Justice of children
There are two types of justice. Traditional justice is based on the beliefs and customs of communities that use them. Modern justice is established by the state; with particular vocabulary, it aims to punish those who violate the law and to give reparations to the victims.
There are many international rules for juvenile justice. They explain how the states should deal with children who come into contact with the law, regardless of the reason. But if all or almost all of the countries have accepted these rules, they are rarely implemented.
Children are involved with the justice system for many reasons: they may be in conflict with the law, but are also victims and witnesses of crime. Children in conflict with the law have often committed an infraction; representing ‘risk of delinquency’, they are victims of unjustified actions by the authorities or are clandestine or asylum seekers.
Juvenile justice deals with children. To enforce their rights, it must be adapted to their needs, whether or not they are criminally responsible. The well-being of children is paramount and every decision should be well thought out so as not to harm their interests or endanger them.
The judicial process must be fast with neutral decisions that take into account the seriousness of the offense and the context. For this, we need justice for children as a separate service with appropriately trained personnel. Received sentences can be very different depending on the nature of the offense, the circumstances, as well as the country where the trial is held. Ideally, it is best to avoid detention.
Around the world, children regularly are detained. The age and conditions of confinement are different and vary from one country to another. Their interests and needs are meant to be respected, yet they are often victim to neglect and abuse. In all cases, detention has a negative impact on the development and future of the children.
The effects of such a meeting focuses on children in conflict with the law who are deprived of their liberty. How the staff treats justice and decisions, fair or not, has a significant impact on the lives of children.
Find Out More!
- United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules)
- United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines))
- Directives relatives aux enfants dans le système de la justice pénale
- Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the protection of human rights of juveniles deprived of their liberty
- Lignes directrices de l’Organisation des Nations Unies en matière de justice dans les affaires impliquant les enfants victimes et témoins d’actes criminels, (version pour enfant)
- Manuel de mesure des indicateurs de la justice pour mineurs
- Children and justice during and after armed conflict, par le rapporteur spécial de l’ONU, 2011
- Quaker United Nations Office : Children of Prisoners, 2008
- UNICEF : Justice for Children, 2011
- UNICEF : Traditional Justice Systems in the Pacific, Indonesia and Timor-Leste, 2009
- Observatoire international de justice juvénile
- SOS Children’s villages Canada: Uncertainty remains over prosecuting child soldiers for war crimes, 2011
- Irin newy : DRC – children still in prison despite law, 2011
- EJI : Children in Adult Prison
- Des Enfants en prison en Palestine et dans le monde, Médecine et Guerre Nucléaire, Volume 20, No.3, 2005.
- DEI Pays-bas : KIDS BEHIND BARS A study on children in conflict with the law: towards investing in prevention, stopping incarceration and meeting international standards, 2003
- Collectif NRV : On ne grandit pas en prison !, 2010
- Worldpress : The abandonned child of Sierra Leone, 2011
- Déclaration d’Amnesty International devant le Conseil des droits de l’homme, 2012
- Death Penalty Database – Minors and death penalty
- The Psychological Effects of Imprisonment, 2000
- DEI Belgique, campagne « Pas d’enfant derrière les barreaux »
- International Detention coalition : pétition contre l’emprisonnement d’enfants pour des raisons d’immigration
Written by : Marie Rivolet
Review by : Marc Lacrotte
Translated by : Allison Charette
Review by : Karen Strouse
Last update 22th may 2012