National legal and justice systems need to be made child-friendlyListen /
Many children around the world are reluctant to seek justice for violations committed against them for fear of harassment, stigmatization, abandonment or reprisals against them or their families, according the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR).
Access to justice is particularly difficult for children in institutional care, migrant children, those living in extreme poverty or affected by conflict or those who face violations by persons from their immediate environment.
United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri, says governments need to develop child-sensitive legal systems and empower children to claim their rights.
Addressing the UN Human Rights Council at the start of its annual dialogue on the rights of the child, Ms Pansieri said national legal systems need to have the capacity to accept and address complaints from, or on behalf of children.
"Child-sensitive justice systems must include complaint mechanisms that are independent, safe, effective and easily accessible by children. To be properly empowered children must be able to give their informed consent to decisions that concern them, in line with their evolving capacity. They need to be aware of, and have access to information about their rights and how to obtain a remedy. Children should be able to initiate proceedings in cases where their rights are violated. The views of children even those of the youngest ones, must be given due consideration. Furthermore, children must be protected from manipulation, harassment, reprisals or intimidation, and all relevant professionals must have the knowledge and skills to relate properly to children's rights and needs."
Ms Pansieri says a child-sensitive justice system is one that understands and respects the rights of children and their unique vulnerabilities, whether they are coming into contact with the law as victims, witnesses, complainants or for any other reason such as their care, custody or protection.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.