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Juvenile justice

One million children worldwide are in prison instead of school. Terre des hommes aims to reverse this situation by implementing a specialised approach to juvenile justice.

Our recommendations in respect of juvenile justice

Working to achieve restorative justice

Restorative justice is an approach that seeks to repair the damage caused and restore equilibrium to the broken social connection between the three parties involved: the perpetrator, the victim and the community. Juvenile restorative justice therefore favours solutions that repair damage, reconcile the parties involved, place responsibility on youths and restore harmony in the community

Non-custodial measures

Tdh recommends the implementation of judicial systems that provide for non-custodial measures. This ensures children have access to alternatives to the formal legal system at all stages of the proceedings. All non-custodial measures and sanctions must be considered for the purposes of education and social reintegration. Detention should only be used as a last resort and for a minimum period of time. It should not in any way deprive the child of his fundamental rights.

Working with the local authorities

Terre des hommes recommends a restorative approach to dealing with children in conflict with the law. This approach must be systematically integrated into the professional training course for government employees and public institutions involved in juvenile justice (e.g. judges, prosecutors and lawyers). Lastly, Tdh recommends implementing awareness-raising campaigns to educate the public about the benefits of this approach in the common interest of society as a whole.

Putting children’s interests first

Children’s best interests should be the primary basis of all decisions concerning children, irrespective of whether they are the perpetrators, witnesses or victims of criminal acts. This principle is the basis of all others, particularly the belief that punishment should be adapted to each child’s circumstances.

Listen to the testimony of Fernando, who uses music to build self-confidence: “I feel great because I’ve been given a chance. It’s very positive. We’re getting by thanks to music.”

Fernando, Brésil


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Related publications

Courage No. 49 – To give every child a second chance
Final evaluation by Jean Zermatten, following the Juvenile Justice World Congress
Thematic Policy 2014 - Restorative Juvenile Justice

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