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Child-friendly justice and children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings

Judicial systems in Europe are still insufficiently adapted to the specific vulnerabilities and needs of children. Children can be involved in judicial proceedings in various settings, either directly (as a defendant, victim or witness) or indirectly when judicial decisions may have a considerable impact on their lives such as in divorce or custody proceedings. However, their involvement often lacks a child rights based approach and response from judicial and other actors.

Making the justice system more child-friendly in Europe is a key action under the EU Agenda.  

What does the European Commission do to achieve and promote child-friendly justice?

•    carried out an extensive study on children's involvement in civil, administrative and criminal judicial proceedings in the 28 Member States of the EUpdf in which it collected and collated all available statistics and published a policy brief summary reports and 29 country reports for each of the three areas of justice
•    Proposed a directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime  pdf
•    proposed a directive on special safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings Dir 2016/800/EU (adopted in 2016)
•    promotes the use of the Council of Europe Guidelines of 17 November 2010 on child-friendly justice
•    supports and encourages the development of training activities regarding the optimal participation of children in judicial systems – see compilation of previously funded projects on child-friendly justice pdf

 Background documents

 General comments of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on: