Children in judicial proceedings
Children can be involved in judicial proceedings, either directly, as a defendant, victim, witness or indirectly when decisions have a considerable impact on their lives. This can be the case in divorce or custody proceedings or in migration and status determination procedures.
In all cases, children should feel comfortable and safe to participate effectively in the proceedings and judicial systems in Europe need to be adapted to the specific needs of children and must respect their rights.
EU actions to support justice systems that uphold the rights and needs of children
To encourage judicial systems to adapt to children's needs, the European Commission has:
- adopted directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime
- adopted the EU Strategy on victims’ rights (2020-2025)
- adopted: directive 2016/800/EU on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings
- adopted the European Judicial Training strategy for 2021-2024 COM(2020) 713 final
- adopted regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility (2201/2003/EC),
- adopted Council Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations (4/2009/EC)
- adopted extensive migration EU acquis
- promoted the Council of Europe guidelines of 17 November 2010 on child-friendly justice
- Adopted the 2017 Communication on the protection of children in migration
- Funded the set-up of the European Guardianship Network
Under the new EU Strategy on the rights of the child, the Commission committed to:
- propose in 2022 a horizontal legislative initiative to support the mutual recognition of parenthood between Member State;;
- contribute to training of justice professionals on the rights of the child and child friendly justice, in line with the European judicial training strategy for 2021-2024, and through the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), the Justice and CERV programmes, as well as the European Training Platform of the EU e-justice portal;
- strengthen the implementation of the 2010 Guidelines on Child-friendly Justice with the Council of Europe;
- provide targeted financial support for trans-national and innovative projects to protect children in migration under the new Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF)
- support Member States in the development of effective and viable alternatives to the detention of children in migration procedures.