Children and the Justice System

Children in contact with the justice system have been a focus area for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for several years as contact with the justice system often places them in a situation of vulnerability. Children can come into contact with the justice system as victims and witnesses or as children accused or convicted of crimes, among others. These children are often unaware of their rights and/or not in a position to claim their rights. As such, it is important to identify their specific needs and the protections that they should be accorded.

2012

On 8 March 2012, during its 19th session, the Human Rights Council held its annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child on the subject of children and the administration of justice. Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 19/37, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights prepared a summary report of the discussions, which focused on worrying trends and best practices concerning children in the judicial process and protection and realization of the rights of children deprived of liberty and children of incarcerated parents. This report was submitted at the 21st session of the Council in September 2012.

In September 2012, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children submitted a joint report on prevention of and responses to violence against children within the juvenile justice system at the 21st session of the Human Rights Council,  pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 18/12. This report built upon the 2006 United Nations Study on Violence against Children, and provided a number of recommended strategies to prevent and respond to violence against children in the juvenile justice system.

At the same session, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a report on the protection of human rights of juveniles deprived of their liberty pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 18/12

2013

On 11 September 2013, during its 24th session, the Human Rights Council held a panel discussion on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed focusing on examine the negative impact of the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty on the human rights of children whose parents are sentenced to the death penalty or executed; the international human rights norms and standards relevant to the rights of those children; and the protection and assistance that those children may require in the enjoyment of their human rights. Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 22/11, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights prepared a summary report of the discussions and submitted it at the Council's 25th session in March 2014.

2014

In March 2014, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a report on access to justice for children at the Human Rights Council's 25th session, pursuant to resolution 22/32. On 13 March 2014, during its 25th session, the Human Rights Council held its annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child on the theme of access to justice for children. Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 22/32 and 25/6, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights prepared a summary report of the discussions, which focused on international norms and standards on access to justice for children, child-sensitive justice, and empowering children to claim their rights, and submitted it during the Council's 27th session in September 2014.

In its resolution 69/157 of 18 December 2014, the General Assembly invited the Secretary-General to commission an in-depth study on children deprived of liberty. The Study, led by Independent Expert, Manfred Nowak (Austria), focused on deprivation of liberty of children in six settings: (a) the administration of justice; (b) in prisons with their primary caregivers; (c) migration-related detention; (d) deprivation of liberty in institutions; (e) detention in the context of armed conflict; and (f) on national security grounds. 

2019

The Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty was presented to the General Assembly in October 2019 during its 74th session.

Further information

External links