BELIZE: Access to justice for children

This report is part of CRIN's access to justice for children project, looking at the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in national law, the status of children involved in legal proceedings, the legal means to challenge violations of children’s rights and the practical considerations involved in challenging violations.

Belize ratified the CRC and, although the Convention was not directly incorporated through legislation, the Supreme Court of Belize has ruled that the CRC is applicable “with appropriate modifications to suit the circumstances in Belize”. Children are unable to bring cases by themselves, except suits for recovery of wages owed to them. In all other cases, the assistance of a “next friend” is generally needed but the courts have a discretionary power to make an order permitting the minor to conduct proceedings without a next friend. Legal aid structures are weak and pro bono practice is not well established. In addition to the judicial system, complaints of violations of children’s rights by actions of administrative authorities may be submitted to the Ombudsman.

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