World Congress on Justice with Children: "Our difficulties are not sufficiently recognised”
After a week-long world congress on access to justice for young people, participants seal their commitment to non-discrimination and inclusiveness for young people. Justice must adapt each treatment to the child's situation and favour non-custodial measures. Co-organised by Terre des hommes, the event highlighted various violations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which celebrates its 32nd anniversary today.
At the end of the Congress, a joint declaration was signed. It will be translated into more than 40 languages and seals the commitment of judicial and political actors, public institutions and States to work hand in hand with young people to ensure equal, non-discriminatory and inclusive access to justice for all children around the world. Although the principle of non-discrimination is a fundamental pillar of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, young people are still regularly harmed by justice systems. "In many countries of the Middle East, children are sentenced to prison without having even seen a lawyer. There is no fair trial, no defense, no clear evidence in many cases. Justice for children cannot be served if they do not access legal aid," says Marta Gil, Tdh Access to Justice programme coordinator for the MENA region.
Treatment must be adapted to the child's needs, situation, and state of health. Psychosocial support should be put in place to help the child and his or her family cope. Diversion, restorative justice and non-custodial measures should be promoted: rehabilitation and reintegration of young people instead of sentencing can reduce recidivism.
Children in contact with the law are confronted with multiple forms of adversity, often accumulated, which encourage delinquent behaviour: domestic violence, precariousness, discrimination, exclusion from education. "These difficulties and the suffering they cause are not sufficiently recognised. We need to work with young people and their families to respond to these situations at an early stage and to identify solutions to invest in. This ensures global support while we reshape these inequitable systems to serve our communities", reports Iliana Pujols, a member of the advisory group of young people under 25 years of age, active in the design of the Congress and the different conferences.
The event, co-organised by Terre des hommes, brought together 4800 participants of all ages from around 100 different countries.
Find the final declaration here: www.tdh.ch/en/media-library/documents/global-declaration-justice-children