Child-Friendly Justice and Children's Rights

Summary: Report on children's right to child-friendly justice, including examples of good practice, international and regional standards, and research and other resources.


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Child-Friendly Justice and Children's Rights


Whether children come into contact with the law as victims, witnesses, offenders or complainants, it is equally important that they are met with a system that understands and respects both their rights and their unique vulnerability. 

This idea – that we must take special care with children whose lives have become entwined in the legal system – is the backbone of child-friendly justice, a movement that calls for a dramatic shift in the ways that our justice systems interact with children. Child-friendly justice embraces the idea that courts can be a powerful tool to positively shape children's lives and at the same time recognises the reality that contact with the legal system is all too often more a source of additional trauma than a remedy for children.

Building on international children's rights obligations, child-friendly justice introduces principles that empower children to enforce their rights and encourages government, court, and law enforcement officials to develop policies that address children's precarious situation in the justice system.

Child-friendly justice asks us to appreciate and minimise the challenges that children face at each step in each aspect of a legal proceeding, building confidence in the view of the justice system as a solution to children's legal issues rather than another of an already long list of problems. Respecting child-friendly justice principles will not only eliminate many of the traumatic experiences children face in the legal system, it will foster greater respect for their rights by providing children the full access to justice they need to bring violations of these rights forward.

This report aims to provide information about the obligation to follow child-friendly justice principles; international, regional, and national standards for doing so; court decisions, studies, research surveys, and position papers on the subject; and other relevant resources. We hope to add to it on a regular basis, and would very much appreciate your help in drawing our attention to additional information on the subject - please email us at [email protected] with any comments or suggestions.


Child-Friendly Justice: A Term of Art

The notion that children deserve special attention in the legal system is not a new one, and has taken on various forms and a number of different names throughout its development. You may run across other terms that reference the ideas and principles discussed in this report, from “child-friendly justice” and “child-sensitive justice” to “justice for children” and “children in contact with the law.” Recognising that these terms all cover similar ground, we have chosen for purposes of simplicity to refer to the core of the movement described solely as “child-friendly justice.”

You can download the full report here.

pdf: Justice and Children's Rights_Revised.pdf



    Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.