This article examines what a rights based approach to child friendly justice entails, in terms of both the procedures required and the substantive outcomes that such procedures should deliver. It examines the growing recognition in legislation and jurisprudence of the need for specially tailored processes for children and the practical challenges in achieving them. It explores what role EU resources may play in supporting Member States to strengthen their child friendly justice processes.
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UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General Comment No. 5 (2003): General measures of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 27 November 2003, CRC/GC/2003/5, para. 24.
UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, p. 3.
Council of Europe, European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as amended by Protocols Nos. 11 and 14, 4 November 1950, ETS 5.
Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly, Child friendly justice, 27 June 2011, Doc. 12672.
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General Comment No. 12 (2009): The right of the child to be heard, 20 July 2009, CRC/C/GC/12.
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General Comment No. 10 (2007): Children’s Rights in Juvenile Justice, 25 April 2007, CRC/C/GC/10.
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken a s a primary consideration (art. 3, para. 1), 29 May 2013, CRC /C/GC/14.
UN Human Rights Council, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure: resolution/adopted by the Human Rights Council, 14 July 2011, A/HRC/RES/17/18.
See Sect. 3 below.
UN CRC, Article 37.
General Comment No 5, Op cit.
Council of Europe, European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights, 25 January 1996, ETS 160.
Council of Europe, Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, 16 May 2005, CETS 197.
Council of Europe, Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, 12 July 2007, CETS No.: 201.
These are discussed more fully in the contribution by Ankie Vandekerckhove in this issue.
See, for example, Case C-540/03 European Parliament v Council  ECR I-05769.
Reference is made to the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht text), July 29, 1992, 1992 O.J. C 191/1; Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties Establishing the European Communities and Certain Related Acts, 1997 O.J. C 340/1; Treaty of Nice amending the Treaty on the European Union, the Treaties Establishing the European Communities and Certain Related Acts, 2001 O.J. C 80/1; Treaty of Lisbon (2007) Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union, 2010 O.J. C 83/01.
European Union: Council of the European Union, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2007/C 303/01), 14 December 2007, C 303/1.
Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA, 17 December 2011, O.J.L335/1; Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, An EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child COM/2011/0060 final.
See Sect. 3 below.
Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection;
Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection;
Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted;
Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person.
Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status.
Parker, S. (1994) “The Best Interests of the Child. Principles and Problems”, Alston, P. (ed.) (1994), The Best Interest of the Child: Reconciling Culture and Human Rights, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
ZH (Tanzania) (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (UK Supreme Court) in which a mother’s immigration history was described as “appalling” and having engendered a precarious family life. However the UK Supreme Court held that the children were not to be blamed for that and considered that their best interests meant the mother should not be deported.
Rahimi v. Greece ECHR (8687/08)(8687/08).
Case C-648/11 MA and Others v UK, judgement of 6 June 2013 (not yet reported).
Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national.
Case C-648/11, MA and Others v UK, at para. 55.
These are discussed in depth in the contribution by Margaret Tuite in this issue.
Separated asylum-seeking children: An examination of living conditions, provisions and decision making procedures in selected EU Member States through child centred participatory research.
EU Strategy Towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016.
This article is based on a presentation given at the conference Child-friendly justice organised by ERA in cooperation with the Law Society of Northern Ireland on 7–8 March 2013 in Belfast.
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O’Donnell, R. The role of the EU legal and policy framework in strengthening child friendly justice. ERA Forum 14, 507–521 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12027-013-0328-6