Access to justice for children



What is the issue?

When we suffer a human rights violation we should all be able to challenge it and obtain redress, otherwise rights become nothing more than promises on paper. Access to justice is itself a human right, but it also makes other human rights a reality. The importance of access to justice is equal for children and adults, but children’s rights in this area have long been neglected and ignored.

What is the problem?

Children are prevented from accessing justice in many ways. Only half of the world’s countries have incorporated the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into their legal systems, allowing children to enforce their rights directly. The rules governing how and by whom a complaint can be made commonly prevent children from bringing complaints or giving evidence themselves. Courts and complaint mechanisms frequently do not have the authority or capacity to enforce children’s rights, and children often lack access to the free legal advice and assistance that they need to effectively engage with the legal system.

What is the solution?

For every rights violation, there must be a remedy. Access to justice for children means that children, or their appropriate advocates where applicable, must be able to trust the legal system to uphold their rights. The legal system must provide children with the means to obtain a quick, effective and fair response to protect their rights; the means to prevent and solve disputes; mechanisms to challenge the abuse of power; and all of this must be available through a transparent, efficient, accountable and affordable process.

No country on earth perfectly protects children’s access to justice, but CRIN has documented the creative and effective ways that children can access justice around the world.