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 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, and that they have a “right to be heard in any judicial or administrative proceedings affecting [them].”

However, 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 voices heard and their opinions count, particularly in matters that affect them.

Child-friendly justice systems need to ensure that children are effectively protected and need to provide them with age-appropriate information and child-sensitive support, so that they are empowered and well equipped to claim their rights. We must approach children as meaningful actors in society and take their views into account, which is also an essential element to ensuring that justice systems function properly and effectively.

Disclaimer: Authors are the Global Initiative on Justice with Children with pro-bono support from Baker McKenzie. This section represents one among other positions of some members of the World Congress Consortium and does not necessarily represent the view of all institutions and members  involved.