Access to justice

Nearly one million children are currently deprived of liberty. Most frequently they are detained for having committed minor offences, although custody should be a last resort. Tdh encourages a restorative approach and a reduction of recidivism. We are committed to change practices to ensure that each child has access to a justice that is respecting their rights and adapted to their circumstances and needs.

Our work in the field of access to justice:

Promotion of non-custodial measures

Custody may only be used as a last resort, as it jeopardises the development and reintegration of children. Tdh works in collaboration with professionals in criminal justice, especially with the police, prosecutors and judges to make sure that the necessary legislation is implemented and to improve the application of non-judicial procedures and alternatives to imprisonment. In this way children and adolescents in conflict with the law, who have often committed only minor offences, can benefit from a justice that is adapted to them. They have access to non-custodial measures, procedures for the non-violent resolution of conflicts and to reintegration.

Improvement of custody conditions

The rights of children in conflict with the law are often unrecognised. We work together with the staff of the detention centres and with training institutions for justice professionals to alleviate the negative impact of deprivation of liberty on children and young people. Our goal is to reduce violence and to lower recidivism, but also to ensure that young people in custody are treated with dignity and prepared for their reintegration.

Improving prevention and reintegration services

We work with families, organisations and community leaders to create a caring and supportive environment in the community. This should enable mitigating the violence against or by the young people and to reintegrating them in society.

Supporting collaboration in the contexts of legal pluralism

Our teams promote coordination between the people concerned in formal justice, both lay and religious, and the people concerned in traditional justice. Our aim is to encourage the recognition of positive practices of restorative justice and a decision-making that defends the best interests of the child, in particular in communities where systems of traditional justice are the most effective.

“Justice for children and youth remains a real challenge: more than one million young people worldwide are believed to be deprived of their liberty. Over 70% of them are still awaiting trial.”

Yann Colliou, Head of Tdh’s Access to Justice (A2J) programme


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Related publications

A commitment to child-friendly justice - Juvenile Justice Brochure
Annual report 2021
Final evaluation by Jean Zermatten, following the Juvenile Justice World Congress
Thematic Policy 2014 - Restorative Juvenile Justice
A2J MENA Reintegration of Children in Conflict with the Law “Give a chance, but a real one”

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