TUVALU: 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.

Tuvalu has ratified the CRC, though the Convention has not been incorporated into its domestic law. Children can bring civil, constitutional and judicial review proceedings, with the assistance of their next friend or guardian ad litem, and courts have wide powers to redress violations. Despite these provisions, significant obstacles to children’s access to justice exist. There is no formal legal aid system in Tuvalu, and very limited access to pro bono legal assistance. There are no children’s courts or special provisions for children who provide evidence in court. Child-specific legislation or legislative provisions is virtually non-existent. Tuvalu does not have a national human rights institution that can receive complaints from children about violations of their rights. In some circumstances, cases are dealt with under customary law, which forms part of Tuvalu’s law and is taken into account in certain civil and criminal proceedings, as well as in adoption, custody and guardianship matters. However, traditional customs appear to be contrary to the principle of respect for the views of the child.

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