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Introduction: A Critical Review of Access to Justice for Children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 November 2022

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Summary

Following the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989, it is no longer possible to exclude children from addressing the justice issues that aff ect them. They are recognized as having the right to express themselves on matters that concern them, in all proceedings in which they have an interest. Thirty years on, how far have we come? Are the rights that are recognized effective? How are they implemented? What purposes do they serve? Is justice child-friendly? Are children to be found in the justice system? Now is the time for a critical review.

Children’s access to justice suffers from the ailments affecting access to justice for all, such as involving a lack of information, cost, the shortcomings of legal aid, the complexity of the steps and formalities, the slow pace of proceedings, etc. In addition, children encounter difficulties linked to their specificities. In thinking about justice, no priority is given to adapting it to them. Conceived for adults, applied by adults, the judicial system does not primarily off er justice adapted to the differences that distinguish children from adults.

Over the last decade we nevertheless see initiatives emerging at the international level that question this situation. Prominent among these have been the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child-friendly justice (2010), the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2013), and General Comment No.12 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, on the right of the child to be heard (2009). These texts highlight the paths to be followed to improve the effectiveness of Children’s right to access the justice system. However, it is also necessary that States decide to make this a concrete priority.

An inter-university partnership was formed in 2017 to reflect on those issues. It brings together researchers from the University of Ottawa in Canada, the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and the Universities of Bordeaux and Aix-Marseille in France.

Type
Chapter
Information
Children's Access to Justice
A Critical Assessment
, pp. 1 - 10
Publisher: Intersentia
Print publication year: 2022

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