Children’s access to justice has emerged as an important topic in the children’s rights domain. While there has been increasing attention paid to child-friendly justice internationally, there has been relatively little research in this area. This book, with contributions from researchers and practitioners, explores the meaning, practice and challenges of children’s access to justice and contributes to a deeper understanding of what access to justice means to children, how they experience it and what it should look like in practice. It seeks to define access to justice in a global way, by addressing current challenges, asking new questions and providing answers to existing problems. One of the main areas of focus is children’s participation in legal proceedings, which critically explores how children are heard in family law, criminal law and child protection procedures. Special challenges faced by groups of children, such as indigenous children, are brought to light. The roles of different actors in justice, including judges and lawyers, but also institutions such as independent child commissioners and schools, and how they can improve children’s access to justice are explored. The book also highlights structural obstacles to children’s participation that can be explained by country-specific situations and the attitudes of adults towards children.
Many of the contributions are based on empirical research, bringing forth the voices of actors of justice and children themselves. While many of these contributions are county-specific, the book clearly demonstrates how challenges to children’s access to justice are universal in nature.
With contributions by Nicholas Bala (Queen’s University), Rachel Birnbaum (King’s University College at Western University), Apollonia Bolscher (Leiden University), Philippe Bonfils (Aix-Marseille University), Marine Braun (independent expert), Mariëlle Bruning (Leiden University), Adeline Gouttenoire (University of Bordeaux), Jean-Frédéric Hübsch (University of Ottawa), Fanny Jolicoeur (Université du Québec à Montréal), Kamel Khiari (Sainte-Anne University), Ursula Kilkelly (University College Cork), Blandine Mallevaey (Catholic University of Lille), Deborah McMillan (Commissioner for Children and Young People, Jersey), Coline Moreau (University of Ottawa), Thierry Moreau (Université Catholique de Louvain), Eléazar Michel Nkoué (University of Yaoundé II), Mona Paré (University of Ottawa), Malika Saher (Fondation Dr Julien), Caroline Siffrein-Blanc (Aix-Marseille University), Daisy Smeets (Leiden University) and Caterina Tempesta (Office of the Children’s Lawyer).
Mona Paré is Full Professor at the Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section, and Vice-Dean for Graduate Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada. She is the Director and founder of the Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory on the Rights of the Child and is a member of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University. She has a PhD in Law from Queen Mary College, University of London and specialises in international human rights law, children’s rights and disability rights.
Mariëlle Bruning is Full Professor of Child Law at Leiden Law School, the Netherlands and is the founder of the Leiden Child Law Department at Leiden University. She is the Program Director of the Dutch LLM in Child Law and teaches child protection in the LLM Advanced Studies in International Children’s Rights program. Her research focuses on youth care, child protection, children in alternative care, violence against children, child participation in legal proceedings and children’s rights. She is also an honorary deputy (juvenile) judge at the Amsterdam District Court.
Thierry Moreau is Extraordinary Professor at the Faculty of Law and Criminology, School of Criminology, at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. He is a lawyer of the Bar of Barbant Wallon and practices in child protection, juvenile justice, criminal law and family law. His research focuses on the same subjects. He is also Director of the Centre interdisciplinaire des droits de l'enfant (CIDE-Interdisciplinary Centre of Children’s Rights which brings together the five French-speaking universities of Belgium and two NGOs), President of the Advisory Committee on the detention centre for minors in the French-speaking Community of Belgium and Chair of the Disciplinary Appeals Board of the National Commission of Psychologists.
Caroline Siffrein-Blanc is a maître de conferences, Assistant Director and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Aix-Marseille Université, France. She is also a member of the Laboratoire de droit privé et de sciences criminelles (Laboratory on private law and criminal science). She is a specialist in family law and children and the law, and her research interests lie in filiation, evolution of families, the child in parental separation and child protection.
Introduction: A Critical Review of Access to Justice for Children (p. 1)