[15.02.2016, London] Croatia has been ranked as 24th in the world on how effectively children can use the courts to defend their rights according to new research from Child Rights International Network (CRIN)…
The new report, ‘Rights, Remedies and Representation’, takes into account whether children can bring lawsuits when their rights are violated, the legal resources available to them, the practical considerations for taking legal action and whether international law on children’s rights is applied in national courts.
As a ratified international instrument, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) forms part of domestic law in Croatia and can be directly enforced in the courts. Its provisions are given precedence over conflicting national law. In the context of civil proceedings, children are able to bring proceedings alone, if they are deemed to have the capacity to do so, or through a representative acting on their behalf. In criminal law children of 16 years or above can submit a private criminal charge without assistance. Financial assistance is available to children who hold Croatian citizenship as well as foreign children without a parent or legal guardian, but it can be difficult for unassisted children to apply.
Achieving access to justice for children is a work in progress and the report represents a snapshot of the ways children’s rights are protected across the world. The report condenses findings from 197 country reports, researched with the support of hundreds of lawyers and NGOs and is intended to help countries improve access to justice for children nationally.
Director of CRIN, Veronica Yates, said: “While the report highlights many examples of systems poorly suited to protecting children’s rights there are also plenty of people using the courts to effectively advance children’s rights.
“Our ranking represents how well States allow children access to justice rather than how well their rights are enshrined. However, it is hard to ignore how many countries with deplorable human rights records are on the lower end of the ranking for children’s access to justice.”
In the foreword of the report the chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Benyam Dawit Mezmur said: “The Committee welcomes this research and already envisages its concrete contribution to its various engagements with State Parties.
“Child rights standards in international instruments do not mean much for the lived reality of children if they are not implemented. In particular, if the fundamental rights of children are violated, it is critical that children or those acting on their behalf have the recourse, both in law and in practice, to obtain a remedy to cease, prohibit and/or compensate for the violation.
“I hope this study is only the beginning of a new shift in making access to justice for children a priority that will enable other rights to be fulfilled.”