Ensuring that the voice of the child is heard in child justice systems

A Justice system where children are informed about their rights, they know what they can expect. A system where adults are actually interested in involving children in the decision-making and related processes. – Anonymous, Serbia, imagining the future of child-friendly justice

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, specifies in Article 12 that the views of the child “who is capable of forming his or her own views” must be given due weight,  they have a “right to be heard in any judicial or administrative proceedings affecting [them].”

Children are often seen as “mini adults” and their views are often overlooked or ignored. Discrimination undermines the empowerment of children and profoundly impacts their right to make their voice heard and their opinion count, particularly in matters that affect them.

Child friendly justice systems need to ensure that children are effectively protected and provide them with information, so they are empowered and well equipped to demand their rights which is the ultimate empowerment. We must approach children as meaningful actors in society and take their views into account. We cannot change the justice system if we cannot accept that children are actors within the society.