An improvement in the participation of child offenders in juvenile justice

Observatori Internacional de Justícia Juvenil (OIJJ)The International Observatory of Juvenile Justice (OIJJ) and the University of Leidenhan have published materials to train professionals who work with those working in the judicial system in an issue as complex as the participation of child offenders in juvenile justice. Entitled “Can anyone hear me?” , so far a manual to adapt the European systems of juvenile justice for minors and a guide for programming training sessions for professionals have been published.

The manual addresses legal aspects of children’s rights, interrogation techniques, communication, child psychology and pedagogical skills. Given that in 2016 a new European directive was published regarding juvenile justice [1], the manual includes information about its content and how to apply it in accordance with European and international standards in this field. It can also be used to train professionals in the fields of restorative justice and mediation. The bases of the document are the practices and techniques seen as promising in relation with justice adapted to children. The five chapters of the manual address the following issues:

  • International and European regulations regarding juvenile justice and adolescent development
  • The general prerequisites linked to the three fields:
    • The procedures children participate in when in conflict with the law
    • The right to legal assistance or other kinds of support
    • The role of the parents in juvenile justice
  • The effective participation of children, both regarding the right to information and the right to be heard
  • The communication skills of the actors who intervene in the procedure and who have to deal with children in conflict with the law
  • Follow-up and support, focussing on how to accommodate the opinions of children in conflict with the law when taking decisions and how to explain these decisions

The guide, which complements the manual, is aimed at instructors who have elaborated and carried out training programmes. Therefore, the structure is very similar to that of the manual, but it adds elements to prepare didactic activities, with questions and answers to the different sections of the document which can be used as exercises in training activities.

The publications are the result of the project “Improving juvenile justice systems in Europe: Training for professionals”, coordinated by the OIJJ, in which ten other entities, both public and private, have participated from the different member states of The European Council of Juvenile Justice. The main objective of the project has been to improve the juvenile justice systems in the European Union and understand which aspects can be more efficient or adapt better to children, concentrating on improving the directives of the Council of Europe concerning justice adapted to children and international standards.

[1]Directive (UE) 2016/800 of the European Parliament and the Council, of 11 May, relative to the procedural guarantees of minors under suspicion or accused in criminal proceedings.

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