Millions of children throughout the world suffer harm as a result of crime and abuse of power, and therefore, come into contact with the criminal justice system. The vulnerabilities of children in criminal justice processes, due to their age and still developing levels of maturity, require that special measures be taken to ensure their rights are adequately protected.
Child victims and witnesses who do not receive proper child and gender sensitive consideration and protection can be revictimized during their participation in the criminal justice system, which can leave them more vulnerable to future violence and can reduce the likelihood of them reporting violent crime.
Crime takes an enormous physical, financial, and emotional toll on victims. However, in many criminal justice systems, victims of crime are often forgotten, revictimized, unable to fully participate in decisions that concern them and do not always receive the assistance, support, and protection they need. Redress for the harm they have suffered as a result of victimization is often unavailable or is received too late.
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Therefore, a fair, effective and efficient justice system is a system that respects the fundamental rights of child victims and witnesses. It focuses on the need to prevent victimization, to protect and assist child victims and witnesses, to treat them with compassion, and respects their dignity in accordance with the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Child victims should also have access to judicial and other mechanisms, to seek prompt redress for harm they have suffered. The UNODC Global Programme to End Violence Against Children has been working proactively with Member States to provide technical and legal assistance to develop national and local professional capacities and relevant to child justice reform and to provide law enforcement and justice officials training in child-sensitive intervention techniques, which is of crucial importance to the area of child victims and witnesses.
Indeed, UNODC has produced a number of critical publications in relation to the rights of child victims and witnesses, including the Training Programme on the Treatment of Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime for Prosecutors and Judges, Handbook for Professionals and Policymakers on Justice in matters involving child victims and witnesses of crime and the training Programme on Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime for Law Enforcement Officials which can be found here.