National laws and policies

Beyond international and regional instruments and standards, child-friendly justice has received increasing attention from national law-making bodies. As more and more governments seek to bring their justice systems in line with children's rights and child-friendly justice principles, a variety of approaches to law and policy reform has begun to emerge. With this in mind, the reports below highlight a small sample of proposed amendments and initiatives designed to improve children's interaction with national justice systems.

  • Azerbaijan: In response to international criticism, Parliament is planning to develop a separate juvenile justice system and introduce child-friendly environments in courts.
  • Bolivia: A draft law on juvenile justice promises, among other things, to guarantee the rights of children in conflict with the law to privacy and participation.
  • Indonesia: The national Child Protection Commission has presented a bill that would eliminate the detention and imprisonment of children in conflict with the law and reform juvenile justice proceedings in general.
  • Malta: In a debate on child custody, Members of Parliament have called for new legislation to guarantee that children have the right to be heard in all court cases that involve their well-being.
  • Nepal: The Government has committed to opening more juvenile courts in the country, which offer children access to special child-friendly facilities, technology and professional support.
  • New Zealand: The Government has approved a package of reforms on the treatment of child witnesses; the new measures aim to improve questioning of children in court, facilitate wider use of video evidence, reduce delays in investigation and provide guidance to lawyers and judges working with child witnesses.
  • Swaziland: The recently enacted Children's Protection and Welfare Bill establishes special children's courts that promise to enhance access to justice and bring speedy resolution to cases involving children.
  • Turkey: Several Government ministries have set out to enhance the protection of children's rights within the justice system by improving coordination, revising training programmes and creating special child-friendly spaces in courthouses.
  • United Kingdom: The Government has unveiled a plan to make giving evidence less intimidating for child victims of sexual exploitation. Among other things, the plan seeks to place restrictions on the cross-examination of young witnesses and increase the number of children testifying via videolink rather than in person.
  • United States: Amid controversy, courts around the country have begun to permit trained dogs to provide support to children and other vulnerable witnesses during live testimony.