International standards: Juvenile justice
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that:
States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.
Article 37 of the Convention also prohibits the imposition of the death penalty and sentences of life imprisonment for offences committed by persons under the age of 18.
International standards also include three instruments specifically concerned with juvenile justice: the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the ‘Beijing Rules’), the United Nations Guidelines on the Prevention of Delinquency (the ‘Riyadh Guidelines’) and the United Nations Rules on the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Liberty.
As the Riyadh Guidelines state:
The successful prevention of juvenile delinquency requires efforts on the part of the entire society to ensure the harmonious development of adolescents, with respect for and promotion of their personality from early childhood.
Checklist: Fundamental principles underlying any approach to issues of juvenile justice. These include:
• presumption of innocence
• immediate notification of parents or guardians and their right to be
present upon the apprehension of a juvenile
• avoiding detention before trial if possible and ensuring that any pre-trial
detention is for the shortest possible period
right to facilities and services that meet all the requirements of health and
human dignity, and to adequate medical care, both...