This module is a resource for lecturers
Access to justice – the capability of citizens to demand and obtain response through formal or informal justice institutions, in compliance with rule of law principles and human rights standards.
Child - In this Module, the term “child” is used to refer to all persons below the age of 18 years, consistent with the definition provided in article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. While depending also on the language, some older children may prefer to be referred to as adolescents, youth, or even young men or young women. From a legal and normative standpoint, however, consistent use of the term “child” emphasizes the fact that all persons below the age of 18 years are afforded the rights set forth in the CRC.
Child-friendly justice - the term used by the Council of Europe, in the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child-friendly justice to refer to “justice systems which guarantee the respect and the effective implementation of all children’s rights at the highest attainable level, bearing in mind the principles listed below and giving due consideration to the child’s level of maturity and understanding and the circumstances of the case. It is, in particular, justice that is accessible, age appropriate, speedy, diligent, adapted to and focused on the rights of the child, respecting the rights of the child including the rights to due process, to participate in and to understand the proceedings, to respect for private and family life and to integrity and dignity” (CoE, 2010, p.17).
Child-sensitive – “an approach that [balances] a child’s right to protection and that takes into account the child’s individual needs and views” UN Guidelines on Justice in Matters Involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime ECOSOC/RES/2005/20, 2005, Guideline 9 (d)). This concept further involves a recognition of the distinct physical, psychological, emotional and educational characteristics of a child’s developmental stage, in accordance with the concept of evolving capacities, and recognizes children’s agency, and legal empowerment to seek justice in a timely manner (A/HRC/25/35, 2013, para. 4; Liefaard, 2019, p. 214).
Children in conflict with the law - individuals under the age of 18 who are alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law.
Committee on the Rights of the Child – “is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its States parties. It also monitors implementation of two Optional Protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography” (OHCHR website, no date).
Deprivation of liberty – “any form of detention or imprisonment or the placement of a person in a public or private custodial setting, from which this person is not permitted to leave at will, by order of any judicial, administrative or other public authority” (Havana Rules, 1990, Rule 11 (b)).
Diversion – “measures for referring children away from the judicial system, at any time prior to or during the relevant proceedings.” (Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 24, 2019, para 8).
Gender-sensitive (in the context of justice) - means ensuring that laws, justice institutions, justice processes and justice outcomes do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender. It necessitates taking a gender perspective on the rights themselves, as well as an assessment of access and obstacles to the enjoyment of these rights that includes attention to gendered expectations, stereotypes and the extent to which formal or informal restrictions, prohibitions or punishments apply differentially on the grounds of gender. The concept extends to the establishment and full implementation of gender-sensitive strategies to redress the harmful effects of gender bias.
Justice for children – is understood to encompass the formal and informal processes and institutions through which children seek redress when they have been wronged (child victims, child witnesses); children involved in family court proceedings (for example, as pertains to divorce and/or decisions about custody, adoption or placement); children in contact with the law by virtue of their migration, etc); and children who are children alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law.
Juvenile justice – refers to the specialized laws, institutions, procedures, mechanisms and provisions responsible for preventing child involvement in crime, and responding to children who are alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed penal law.
Minimum age of criminal responsibility – “the minimum age below which the law determines that children do not have the capacity to infringe the criminal law” (Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 24, 2019, para 8).
In the following section, the Module is structured into five topics:
- Topic one - The role of the justice system
- Topic two - The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the international legal framework on children’s rights
- Topic three - Justice for children
- Topic four - Justice for children in conflict with the law
- Topic five - Realizing justice for children in the face of contemporary challenges