Children come into contact with the justice system in many different ways. This can be for family matters such as divorce or adoption, in administrative justice for nationality or immigration issues or in criminal justice as victims, witnesses or perpetrators of crimes. When faced with the justice system, children are thrown into an intimidating adult world which they cannot understand. Adapting justice to their needs is therefore necessary.


Adapting to the specific needs of children

The Council of Europe has created various standards and guidelines in the field of child-friendly justice. These standards aim at improving the justice system and adapting it to the specific needs of children. This entails creating a justice system which guarantees respect for and the effective implementation of all children’s rights. The most extensive set of standards on child-friendly justice are contained in the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child-friendly justice.

Child-friendly justice is justice that is:

  • accessible;
  • age appropriate;
  • speedy;
  • diligent;
  • adapted to and focused on the needs of the child;
  • respecting the right to due process;
  • respecting the right to participate in and to understand the proceedings;
  • respecting the right to private and family life;
  • respecting the right to integrity and dignity.

 The guidelines booklet

  The guidelines leaflet

 Council of Europe factsheet on child-friendly justice

The Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union (FRA) has produced a series of videos in several languages explaining some of the key elements surrounding the topic of children and justice.