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.
Guinea-Bissau has ratified the CRC, although it is not directly enforceable in court or incorporated into national law. Children under 18 have no legal capacity, and must rely on their parents, guardians or, alternatively, the Public Ministry, to enforce their rights in court. Most of the country has no access to courts due to a lack of infrastructure and legal counselling, as the judicial bodies and legal institutions are located in the capital. Children’s courts are non-existent. Traditional justice is prevalent in some regions, a setting in which children have no voice and where their best interests are not guaranteed. A coup in 2012 has put a halt to access to justice programmes sponsored by international donors, but a democratic government has been elected in 2014 and legislation and institutions are slowly being renewed. The best recent initiative is the establishment of Centres for Access to Justice (CAJs), which brings legal counseling to remote areas and segments of the population without access to justice.