Human Rights Council interactive dialogue with Special Representative on violence against children

12/03/2014

The Human Rights Council have held an interactive dialogue with the Special Representatives on violence against children and on children in armed conflict (12 March) in Geneva. Among other things, it has been highlighted that "children have a right to access justice in a system that is sensitive to their rights".

"Children do not have the legal capacity but we cannot ignore that there are still millions of children that do not even have a legal identity, a birth certificate to come before the justice system. They lack information, they are unable to cover the fees of justice fees, as we heard but they fear very much what will happen because this is an unknown, a universe they do not understand," UN Special representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children Marta Santos Pais said.
 
Pais pointed out that it is even worse for children with disabilities.
 
"In most countries the legislation does not allow children with disabilities to swearing on oath, to sign a document or to be taken seriously if they want to bring a testimony to a case that affects them." - se said.
 
Panelists at the event on the rights of the child emphasized the need for judicial systems need to be sensitive to children's rights.
 
UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri, described child sensitive justice systems as "one that understand and respects the rights of children, that recognizes their unique vulnerabilities, whether they are coming into contact with the law as victims themselves, witnesses, offenders, complainants or in fact, for any other reason, such as their care custody or protection."
 
She emphasized the need for national legal systems to make provisions that allow complaints from or on behalf of children. 
 
"We have to ensure that the national legal systems have the capacity to accept and address complaints from children or on behalf of children which implies all measures, procedures and mechanisms must be child-sensitive and importantly include also alternative, non- judicial ways to address violations." – said Pansieri.
 
The annual meeting heard that often only a fraction of the thousands of children around the world whose rights are violated often have access to a fair and effective justice system.
 
"Without accountability mechanisms and the possibility to claim for protection and redress, human rights instruments – even if ratified- are just words, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.
 
"As stated by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, 'for rights to have a meaning, effective remedies must be available to redress violations. Access to justice is therefore a necessary aspect of child rights realization" – added Poirier.
 
Citing several individual cases, a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Renate Winter expressed concern about inequalities in some justice systems.
 
"16-year-old Maria was gang raped by eight boys, that was quite harassing but more harassing was the procedure afterwards, when she had no legal assistance because that was not provided in the law, she was not even assisted by the judge, she was not protected, the Judge was not trained and the law did not provide for a person of trust, "- cited Winter.
 
The full-day meeting dedicated to addressing children's access to justice will identify common obstacles and challenges faced by children and seek remedies.

SOURCE: UNMultimedia- OHCHR

Posted at: March 13, 2014 3:29 pm
Duration: 03:26
Available in: SD HD-NTSC HD-PAL