Child Law Webinar Series No. 5
Access to Justice for All Children: Towards Non-discriminatory and Inclusive Child Justice Systems
Child Law International Alliance
Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center
with support from UNICEF China and participation of The Global Initiative on Justice with Children
20 May 2021 16:00 Beijing Time (UTC+8) / 10:00 CET
1. Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR): Protecting the rights and best interests of children as well as guaranteeing the public interests of the society and protecting victims of crimes.
2. Children below the MACR: Protection and support of children who have committed offence under the MACR, including programs, strategies and international perspectives.
3. Victims: Protection and assistance of child victims to avoid secondary victimization.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Su Wenying, Moderator, UNICEF China
Najat Maalla M’jid, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children
Cédric Foussard, Global Initiative on Justice with Children Coordinator; Advocacy and Global Learning Senior Advisor, Terre des hommes Foundation
Tong Lihua, President of Child Law International Alliance and Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center
Tong Lihua, President of CLIA and BCLARC
Renate Winter, Former President of the Committee on the Rights of the Child of the United Nations
Jiang Min, Project Manager, Child Friendly Justice program, Save the Children China
Avril Calder, Former president of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges (IAYFJM), Former Magistrate, Inner London Youth Court and the Family Proceedings Court
Ren Xin, Professor of Criminal Justice, California State University, Sacramento, USA
Open Discussions and Concluding Remarks
Children’s access to justice refers to the ability to obtain a remedy for violations of rights. This concept, grounded on fundamental human rights, concentrates on the empowerment of children. It concerns all judicial proceedings affecting children, be it civil, administrative or criminal, and requires that justice systems be equipped to fulfil children’s rights and needs in their interactions with victims, witnesses and those who are alleged, accused or convicted to have committed crimes. As provided in Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of Children and reiterated in the General Committee No. 24 on Children’s Rights in the Child Justice System, every child alleged, accused of or recognised as having broken the law ‘should be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth’. In this framework, the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) constitutes an essential issue and a particularly thorny one. MACR must reconcile the children’s rights, dignity and special needs for physical and psychological development, on the one hand, and the preservation of public safety and interests, on the other. Up to now, there have been no categorical international standards. The MACR, including its related legal rules, varies hugely in different countries. China has been experiencing a series of legal reforms concerning child rights, including the recent revisions to the Law on the Protection of Minors and the Law on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, as well as the Criminal Law Amendment XI. A notable reform lies in the modification of the MACR, including its exceptions that may apply to severe offences. This change gives rise to increasingly intense discussions about the implementation of the modified MACR and the related measures for the prevention of offending by children below this age.Access to justice is a broad notion that covers all children engaging with justice proceedings, including not only offenders but also victims, witnesses, and other interested parties. Indeed, children’s access to justice must be safeguarded and developed in a holistic way. Among others, child victims should be provided with appropriate protection and assistance in order to prevent secondary victimisation and restore their well-being to the highest attainable level.With the support of UNICEF China and the Global Initiative on Justice with Children, the CLIA and BLARC hope that the FIFTH session of the Child Law Webinar Series will create a space of exchange and analysis regarding the trends and challenges in child justice and make contributions to the improvements of child justice systems of different countries.
· Gathering policymakers, academics and civil society representatives with relevant work and influence in juvenile justice to identify critical areas of interest around issues of diversion, restorative justice, community-integrated rehabilitation and using deprivation of liberty as a last measure for children who have committed violations of the law.
· Fostering thematic priorities and defining trends related to child justice.· Introducing and comparing rules and standards for the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR)
· Analysing judicial and non-judicial measures directed to juvenile delinquency.
ABOUT THE HOST
Child Law International Alliance (CLIA) is a non-governmental organisation registered in Geneva, Switzerland, under Swiss Law. It was founded in 2019 by five senior practitioners of child law from China and Switzerland. The CLIA seeks to promote reforms of child laws in different countries, by providing a platform where NGOs and professionals can share their experience in the fields and work together on legal initiatives. Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Centre (BCLARC) is a non-governmental organisation established in 1999 with the vision of building a society where justice is accessible for every child. Since 2011, it has been in special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC and has been working on advocacy of child rights on the international level. BCLARC is devoted to increasing children’s access to justice. It has provided free legal services for children in almost all provinces in China. And by taking a closer look at the areas where improvements are needed, it provides evidence-based recommendations and prepares solutions for key decision-making stakeholders. Its research and publications have enlightened reforms and improvements to domestic legislation on child protection and child rights in China.
Najat Maalla M’jid is Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children. Dr. M’jid, a medical doctor in paediatrics, has over the last three decades devoted her life to the promotion and protection of children’s rights. She was Head of the Paediatric Department and Director of the Hay Hassani Mother-Child hospital in Casablanca. Dr. M’jid is a member of the Moroccan National Council on Human Rights and founder of the non-governmental organisation Bayti, the first programme addressing the situation of children living and working in the streets of Morocco. From 2008 to 2014, she served as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
Tong Lihua is Director of Beijing Youth Legal Aid and Research Center, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Youth Federation, the President of the Judicial Research Society of the Beijing Legal Association, and the President of the Beijing Fengtai District Lawyers Association. His work focuses on the disadvantaged groups of the society. In 1999 and 2005, he founded the Beijing Youth Legal Aid and Research Center and the Beijing Zhicheng Migrant Workers Legal Aid and Research Center. He was awarded “Pro Bono Award” of International Bar Association in 2012.
Cédric Foussard is an expert on justice for children, working at the international level. Foussard is currently coordinator of the Global Initiative on Justice with children and is Advocacy and Global Learning Senior Advisor for Terre des hommes Foundation. The Global Initiative on Justice with Children is a joint programme developed by a group of international organisations to address the most current issues related to children in contact and conflict with the law. Each 3 years, the Global initiative organise a Global Milestone through World Congresses on Justice with Children as well as regional and national preparatory meetings. The next World Congress on Justice with Children will take place online from the 15th to 20th of November 2021 under the topic of : “Ensuring Access to justice for all children: towards non-discriminatory and inclusive child justice systems” .
Renate Winter is an international judge from Austria. She was a member of the UN Committee of the Right of the Child. She has been president of the residual Special Court for Sierra Leone and international judge in Kosovo. She is the former president of the International Association of Youth and Family Court Judges and Magistrates. In 2013, she became member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, of which she later became vice-president and president. She continues to advise governments and also works for IGOs and NGOs.
Jiang Min is the project manager of Child-friendly justice Project, Save the Children China. She has been engaged in the innovative pilot projects from traditional criminal justice to comprehensive and child-friendly justice for nearly twenty years. She leads the project team to work with stakeholders to established the Panlong model of judicial diversion, Appropriate adult Scheme for children in conflict with criminal law, the One-stop-center model within and beyond justice system for sexual abuse children.
Avril Calder was a magistrate for 35 years, sitting exclusively in two specialised courts—the Inner London Youth Court and the Inner London Family Proceedings Court. These courts deal both with young offenders and with children in need of care and protection, adoption and aspects of domestic violence. Her capacities as a trainer of actors in the fields of youth and family justice have also been in play in European Union projects and overseas She is the immediate past president of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates.
Ren Xin is a Professor of Criminal Justice at the California State University, Sacramento, USA. She also served as an adjunct professor of the LLD. Program at the Institute of International Studies, Ramkhanhaeng University in Bangkok, Thailand for summer program. She is a victimologist and advocate for victims’ rights, especially women and children’s rights. She served on the Executive Board of World Society of Victimology between 2006 and 2012 and is one of the founding members and Executive Board member of the Victim Support Asia. Her research field includes violence against women and children, human trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation of minors, prevention of juvenile delinquency, child pornography and sex trafficking, and violence and terrorism.