Every year, thousands of children across Council of Europe member states are involved in judicial proceedings. Whether a victim of crime or in conflict with the law, they are often vulnerable and in need of protection: in other words, they need justice systems to be “child-friendly”.
To explore child-friendly justice, the Georgian Presidency of the Council of Europe prioritised the organisation of a High-Level Roundtable (23 March 2020), with a focus on fostering child participation and restorative justice. In light of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, this Roundtable was not able to go ahead.
Yet, during the Covid-19 pandemic, child-friendly justice principles have never been more crucial. With many states in lockdown and judicial processes suspended, children are facing renewed difficulties in accessing and participating in justice systems. Confinement measures and rising levels of economic hardship may leave children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse – or to coming into conflict with the law themselves.
To strengthen member states’ focus on child friendly justice and to raise awareness of this important topic, the Council of Europe has developed a dedicated webpage, which will become active on Tuesday 12 May and pools the statements of the high level speakers and other key resources.
This webpage aims to promote key principles, as laid out in instruments like the Child-Friendly Justice Guidelines and Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)8 concerning restorative justice in criminal matters, as well as recent case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. It also aims to provide a timely platform for pan-European exchange of knowledge, practice and challenges in the field.