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Meeting on Child Participation - 13th and 14th November - Geneva

Juvenile justice works with children in conflict with the law (perpetrators), and children in contact with the law (child victims and witnesses).

Since its creation, the IDE strives to raise awareness and train justice professionals on judicial interventions concerning children. The IDE has organized a great many training sessions, be it in Sion or abroad, at the request of States or UN organizations (ex. UNICEF). The training sessions aim to shed light on the international requirements defined by the main treaties, while also seeking to avoid the regressions which zero-tolerance policies cause in certain regions.

Examples of intervention

A programme relative to juvenile justice is running in Bulgaria, in partnership with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and the Swiss-Bulgarian Cooperation. It aims to establish specialized courts for children in conflict, and in contact, with the law (perpetrators, but also victims and witnesses). The programme began with the analysis of the situation of child justice, its compatibility with international standards and reform proposals. The actors involved in the penal process (judges, prosecutors, investigators, social workers) are then trained through three one week long modules in February, July and October 2015. In parallel and in collaboration with the NGO PDJS, the IDE has trained 22 lawyers to be specialized in children's rights over two modules (July and October 2014).

During 2012-2014, the IDE provided training in juvenile justice in Senegal, for the different actors of that country, at the behest of both Switzerland and Senegal. The programme included 5 training modules for professionals and was also intended for all those who intervene in the penal process (police officers, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, social workers, psychologists and penitentiary agents).
The teaching content focused on the main international standards in regard to juvenile justice, legislation and Senegalese practice; in particular, the teaching presented alternatives to deprivation of freedom, and speaks of restorative justice. Special importance was given to the concrete application of the said teaching in Senegalese situations, the coordination of actors, and the collaboration between different professions.
The teaching was based on the confrontation of theory/practice, real case-studies analysis, role-playing and on the active participation of learners.
This training session should allow each involved professional to become, in time, a teacher for his/her colleagues: to this end, a number of days were devoted to methodology, and prepare participants to take on this mission by the end of training.

Mentioned Themes

  • Ages and penal intervention
  • Use of the imprisonment before trial
  • Deprivation of freedom
  • Legal guarantees granted to children in conflict/contact with the law
  • Rehabilitation and reintegration measures
  • Space given to dejudiciarization and mediation
  • Care for victims
  • The role of restorative justice

Juvenile justice is a field which the international community has thoroughly legislated, especially due to the grave disregard to children’s rights by the State (arrest, holding, systematic use of freedom deprivation). Often, the procedural guaranties are ignored or disregarded. A number of international instruments were created (Riyad and Havana directives, ECOSOC directives for victim children, directives for child-friendly justice and General Comment n° 10 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Juvenile Justice). Movements have developed, such as those in favor of restorative justice and dejudiciarization. The Convention on the Rights of the Child devotes two articles to juvenile justice (art. 37 and 40) and bases its actions on the principle of dignity.

The 1999 International Seminary in Sion (Switzerland) brought together more than 200 specialists from all over the world, around the theme "100 years of Juvenile Justice; assessment and future perspectives".