Press Release - 726(2007)

European Ministers of Justice request the Council of Europe to develop child-friendly justice

Lanzarote (Spain) 26.10.2007 – The ministers of justice of the Council of Europe's 47 member states today requested the organisation to start preparing “European guidelines for child-friendly justice”.

In a resolution adopted at the 28th Conference of European Ministers of Justice, which ended today in Lanzarote, ministers asked the Council to examine ways of improving the manner in which authorities provide information to children on their rights and access to justice, including the European Court of Human Rights, and how the views of children can be taken into account during judicial proceedings.

The resolution highlights the need to establish measures and safeguards to reduce the negative impact on children who come into contact with the judicial system and to prevent children from suffering any harm when this happens. It also underlines the need to create a secure and friendly environment for children involved with the justice system, and the need for specially trained persons and efficient procedures.

The ministers stressed that alternatives to custody should be developed for child perpetrators of crime. If deprivation of liberty is necessary as a measure of last resort, the conditions and regime of detention should take into account their specific needs as children. The ministers also underlined that children should be detained separately from adults, including in cases of preventive detention, unless it is considered to be against the best interests of the child.

The ministers recognised that immigration is creating a major challenge for Europe and that migrants and asylum seekers often have difficulties accessing justice.

In a second resolution, they requested the Council of Europe to examine access to justice for migrants and asylum seekers by identifying means and measures with a view to facilitating their access to justice, including the provision of legal aid and assistance. They also requested the Council to examine the specific issue of access to justice, legal representation, age assessment and deprivation or limitation of liberty of unaccompanied and separated children.

The ministers of justice invited the Council of Europe to develop cooperation activities for the training of judges, prosecutors, civil servants and other persons dealing with requests for asylum, granting residence or managing complaints.

The ministers called on States to become parties to the new Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse - which was signed yesterday by 23 member states on the day it was opened for signature - the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Convention on the Exercise of Children´s Rights (CETS n° 201).

The next conference of ministers of justice of the Council of Europe will be held in Norway in 2009.

Press contacts at the Council of Europe: Jaime Rodríguez, Press officer

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Council of Europe Press Division
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