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International Criminal Justice Standards - Convention On The Rights Of The Child

article juvenile covenant legal

The Convention on the Right of the Child entered into force on 2 September 1990, and had been ratified by 191 countries as of 1 November 2000, that is, nearly every county of the world, except Somalia and the United States. The Child Convention elaborates on the rights of juvenile offenders in the Civil and Political Covenant and other treaties.

Articles 12, 37, and 40 are the primary provisions in the Child Convention relevant to the administration of justice. Article 12 safeguards each child's right to be heard in legal proceedings. Article 37(b) provides that "[n]o child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily." Furthermore, Article 37 (d) provides that "[e]very child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action."

Article 40 of the Child Convention addresses the same fair trial issues as Article 14 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 40 of the Child Convention significantly expands fair trial protection to children under the age of eighteen, by using the term "child" instead of "juvenile" used by the Covenant. This expansive approach is also evident when compared to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules, 1985), which defines a juvenile as "a child or young person who, under the respective legal systems, may be dealt with for an offence in a manner which is different from an adult."

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