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Child-Friendly Justice

Whether children come into contact with the law as victims, witnesses, offenders or complainants, it is equally important that they are met with a system that understands and respects both their rights and their unique vulnerability.

This idea – that we must take special care with children whose lives have become entwined in the legal system – is the backbone of child-friendly justice, a movement that calls for a dramatic shift in the ways that our justice systems interact with children. Child-friendly justice embraces the idea that courts can be a powerful tool to positively shape children's lives and at the same time recognises the reality that contact with the legal system is all too often more a source of additional trauma than a remedy for children.

Building on international children's rights obligations, child-friendly justice introduces principles that empower children to enforce their rights and encourages government, court, and law enforcement officials to develop policies that address children's precarious situation in the justice system.

Child-friendly justice asks us to appreciate and minimise the challenges that children face at each step in each aspect of a legal proceeding, building confidence in the view of the justice system as a solution to children's legal issues rather than another of an already long list of problems. Respecting child-friendly justice principles will not only eliminate many of the traumatic experiences children face in the legal system, it will foster greater respect for their rights by providing children the full access to justice they need to bring violations of these rights forward.

This page aims to provide information about the obligation to follow child-friendly justice principles; international, regional, and national standards for doing so; studies, research surveys, and position papers on the subject; and other relevant resources. We hope to add to it on a regular basis, and would very much appreciate your help in drawing our attention to additional information on the subject - please email us at info@crin.org with any comments or suggestions.

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