Category Archives: Updates

GLOBAL TRENDS in CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

A global conference on juvenile justice at the end of 2021, had some good news and highlighted some of the leading issues across the globe.

OVERALL – In the North American Plenary, speakers agreed that the scale of children’s rights violations in the US, based on systemic racism, is unprecedented worldwide, but can be mitigated by incorporation of child rights into laws and practice, including:

  • reasonable minimum age of criminal responsibility (CRC Art. 40),
  • Define children as under 18 (CRC Art 1 – no child under 18 prosecuted/sentenced in adult court),
  • Removal from home a last resort (CRC ART 37), and
  • Inclusion of children’s voices – support restorative processes within schools and communities.

Virtual Hearings are an Issue Globally

Across the globe, juvenile justice stakeholders and advocates expressed concern about the diminishment of children’s rights during “virtual” court hearings.   A small study of system involved children in Ireland found they were severely negatively impacted by virtual court, didn’t understand what was happening and found the technology frustrating.  These outcomes were echoed in a survey of children held in state facilities in Illinois last month, and in a report from the National Juvenile Defender Center (a survey of lawyers in 38 states)  – Due Process in the Time of COVID.  Speakers recommended standards to ensure children’s rights were protected.

Fewer Children in Detention

A recent study from UNICEF revealed that more than 45,000 children around the world were released from detention during the pandemic.   The study  noted that “governments and detaining authorities in at least 84 countries” released thousands of children since April 2020 when UNICEF highlighted the increased risk of contracting COVID in confinement and urged the release of children.    UNICEF Study

A Reasonable Minimum Age

Another global trend involves setting a reasonable minimum age of responsibility.  Internationally, the recommendation is for a minimum age of 14 or higher.  While many developed nations already have a minimum age of 14 (Including Austria, Bolivia, Chile, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Peru, Rwanda, Spain, and Ukraine), the U.S. has lagged behind.  Many states (including Illinois, the home of the world’s first juvenile court) have no minimum age.

Recently, the American Bar Association issued a resolution urging “all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal legislative bodies to enact laws which raise the minimum age for prosecution of children as alleged juvenile delinquents to age 14”.  ABA Minimum Age

Chicago’s Loyola Law School issued a report last year with a thorough examination of the research and trends, and concluded with a recommendation that Illinois set a minimum age of 14 for prosecution of children as a delinquent.  Loyola Minimum Age

Shifts to restorative justice are worldwide and rapidly evolving. Several sessions focused on Restorative Justice (Canada, Albania and Kosovo, Netherlands) along with an overview of a European two year restorative justice project (i-RESTORE) and announcement of a book on a Child Rights perspective to restorative justice – Restorative Justice from a Children’s Rights Perspective

 

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