Guidelines on action for children in the justice system in africa
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Guidelines on Action for Children in the Justice system in Africa. Background. No dedicated African jurisprudence on children and justice systems Focus of major developments accross the continent – eg Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone

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Background Africa

  • No dedicated African jurisprudence on children and justice systems

  • Focus of major developments accross the continent – eg Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone

  • Transitional justice processes have been underway since Truth Commission (South Africa), ICTR and ICSL, children to an extent affected/involved

Background Africa

  • Traditional justice systems officially or otherwise recognised throughout Africa

  • 2010 Council of Europe Guidelines on ‘child friendly justice’

  • Differences: sharp division into ‘before, during and after’

  • Recommendation by expert team to focus on guidelines for action: road map to govts

Background Africa

  • Request to ensure guidelines are ‘africanised’

  • Hence recourse to 1999 African Commission’s ‘fair trial principles’

  • Set high minimum standards and incorporate traditional justice systems ( 3 sections)

  • Are consistent with African Commission jurisprudence, eg communications

Background Africa

  • Second, refers to major AU and OAU documents (listed first, before UN docs)

  • Third, Preamble drafted to reflect African priorities, especially those reflected in the ACRWC (see par 4, p 3)

  • Fourth reflection of language of duties (for governments and on the part of children)

  • Question as to ‘designated’ vulnerable groups (par 5 p 4)

Background Africa

  • Fifth, respect for African family structures- see par 5 p 7; extended definition of ‘parent’

  • Presented at Kampala

  • Feedback quite eclectic: largely not substantive, eg new content; some suggestions about blending some guidelines

  • Weight of focus remains scope, aims, general sections (ie 1st ones)

Substance Africa

  • A.Aims and Objectives

  • Intended to flag dynamism – not just set of principles but concrete guidance for law reform, co-ordination, technical assistance, AU oversight, media and the public

  • Affirms underlying 4 ‘pillars’

  • Underscores multidisciplinary aproach,

Substance Africa

  • Specialisation in child rights and development, reduction of secondary victimisation, need to develop informal justice systems, need to strengthen systems ( systems approach); consideration of special needs (3 (k) p 6.

B scope
B. Scope Africa

  • All administrative and judicial procedures, formal and informal

  • Children in conflict, witnesses, victims, subjects of care proceedings, family law disputes, inheritance

  • All children below 18

C definitions
C. Definitions Africa

  • Child

  • Child sensitive/friendly??

  • Justice systems

  • Social workforce

  • Traditional courts

  • Restorative justice

D overarching principles
D.Overarching principles Africa

  • Detail on participation – effective and meaningful (13)

  • Best interests – interpreted to a degree (14

  • Non discrimination (NB for informal justice systems)

  • Dignity

  • Survival and development - includes the right to protection

E general measures of implementation
E. General Measures of Implementation Africa

  • Birth registration systems; evidence of age

  • Legislative review (harmonisation)

  • National policy development and protocols to guide professionals, avoid delay, encourage specialisation

  • Information mangement and M and E systems

  • Allocation of resources, including donors and private sector

General measures cont
General Measures (cont) Africa

  • Diversion promoted

  • Alternative dispute resolution, mediation etc encouraged

  • Note role of social assistance programmes in reducing vulnerability

F elements characteristics
F.Elements/characteristics Africa

  • Access in own right to justice systems

  • Advice and information

  • Screening of social workforce staff for suitability whether paid or volunteers

  • Training of staff

  • Need for speedy conclusions, postponements kept to a minimum

  • Legal representation (progressive realisation)

Elements characteristics
Elements/characteristics Africa

  • Settings suitable to children; specialised courts; specialised procedures

  • Witness preparation schemes encouraged

  • Safety and dignity of migrant/displaced children

G traditional justice
G. Traditional Justice Africa

  • Must respect international standards including:-

  • -equality, including gender quality

  • -Dignity (no corporal punishment, humiliation)

  • -no arbitrary arrest/detention

  • -opportunity to prepare case/present challenge

Traditional justice
Traditional Justice Africa

  • -entitlement to interpreter, representative

  • -No undue delay

  • Right to appeal

  • Respect for privacy of the child, rights of parents/guardians/care-givers

  • Secret societies?

  • Binding on religious leaders and educators

  • Reference to HCP?

H fair trial rights children in conflict
H.Fair trial rights (children in conflict) Africa

  • Sensitization training for law enforcement and justice officials

  • MACR (12)

  • Abolition of ‘status’ offences

  • Alternatives to prosecution elaborated, including Restorative Justice

  • Last resort and shortest time principle/separation etc

  • Transitional justice processes must enhance accountability

I fair trial rights victims and witnesses
I. Fair trial rights (victims and witnesses) Africa

  • Presence of parents etc during questionning

  • No contact with perpetrator

  • Court preparation programmes

  • Privacy

  • Intermediaries where possible; video taped pre-recorded interviews; screens;

  • Judicial officers to wear ordinary dress

Fair trial rights victims and witnesses
Fair trial rights (victims and witnesses) Africa

  • Previous sexual history evidence disallowed

  • No evidentiary exclusion purely on age

  • Court proceedings to be adapted to child’s pace and attention span

  • Protection from threats/intimidation

  • Information about possible redress

  • Risks of extra-judicial settlements

Fair trial rights victims and witnesses1
Fair trial rights (victims and witnesses) Africa

  • Legal provisions on child witness protection required

  • Interim measures and steps to remove perpetrators introduced

  • Communication of outcomes of justice proceedings to child victims and witnesses

J civil administrative care and family law proceedings
J. Civil, administrative, care and family law proceedings Africa

  • Separate representation where conflict with care-givers

  • Right to be heard or not express opinion

  • Avoidance of intensification of conflict/further legal proceedings

  • Separation of siblings usually not in best interests

  • Promotion of family upbringing

  • Prevention of harm/exploitation

J civil administrative care and family law proceedings1
J. Civil, administrative, care and family law proceedings Africa

After conflictual family proceedings, guidance support and counselling to be offered

Judgements to be handed down speedily and implemented speedily

ICA – last resort and in best interests. National legislation to domesticate Hague convention required

J civil administrative care and family law proceedings2
J. Civil, administrative, care and family law proceedings Africa

  • Alternative care systems to be established by law and monitored by governments

  • Orphaned children to be assured of the appointment of a legal guardian – laws required

  • Laws to ensure that children are not deprived of inheritance rights – girl child’s equal right to share in estates

  • Governments to adopt measures to support parents in their child rearing duties

K monitoring and implementation
K. Monitoring and implementation Africa

  • Governments to positively consider access requests

  • No immunity for torture – prosecutions required

  • Technical assistance to strengthen justice systems for children- note highlighted areas (par77 p 25)

  • Well trained social workforce

K monitoring and implementation1
K. Monitoring and implementation Africa

  • In accordance with National Policy, a monitoring framework, including independent mechanisms, to be established to oversee implementation of the Guidelines

  • Civil society, IHR and relevant bodies to be involved

  • Monitoring process to highlight good and bad practices

  • Dissemination of child friendly version of Guidelines required

Conclusions Africa

  • Terminology (consensus needed)

  • Not a new treaty: clarity on intent

  • How much of the 1999 Fair trials rights principles to alter? Package deal?

  • How many vulnerable groups to refer to and when? Could go on and on? Preamble too – value added?

  • Whether to add – 80 guidelines already!

Conclusions Africa

  • How to deal with conflicting commentary?

  • How many more definitions required?

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