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Justice Systems Must Help Children Overcome Fear and Trauma, Not Make Them Worse

Every year, thousands of children across Council of Europe member states are involved in judicial proceedings. Whether a victim of crime or in conflict with the law, they are often vulnerable and in need of protection: in other words, they need justice systems to be “child-friendly”. Promoting child-friendly restorative justice and exchanging best practices in this area has been one of the priorities of the Georgian Presidency of the Council of Europe.

On Tuesday 12th May 2020, the Council of Europe published a set of statements and resources on restorative justice and participation of children in judicial proceedings that were meant to be presented at a high-level conference in Strasbourg cancelled due to the COVID 19 health crisis in Europe. The crisis and particularly the introduction of broad confinement measures in an effort to save lives were mentioned by Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić in her welcome message. “However, confinement can leave children locked in with their abusers, with little opportunity to raise the alarm”, she warned. “These children must have a place to go with access to professionals who can help them to piece their lives back together”. The difficulties in accessing justice is not something new, Secretary General Burić underlined. “Victims may experience fear, shame and feel that they are among the least likely groups to be heard or have their views taken into account during judicial processes,” she stated. “Our justice systems must help them to overcome the trauma, not compound it.”
Read more: Council of Europe, https://is.gd/UTtt3u

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