For Specialists

General elements of justice in the interests of the child

Every year in Romania, thousands of children directly or indirectly meet the justice system, which frequently reveals repeated incidents of neglect, secondary victimisation and limited access to information for child victims, witnesses or those in conflict with the law. Available data and expert consultations reveal that the most frequent cases of maltreatment and discrimination may occur from the first contact with the justice system. Whether victims, witnesses or offenders, in all cases it is equally important to have a system that understands the specific vulnerabilities of children and respects their rights.

With this in mind, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted on 17 November 2010, in the framework of the Council of Europe Programme “Building a Europe with and for children”, the “Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on justice in the best interests of the child” in particular to ensure that justice always takes into account the best interests of children regardless of their identity and the acts committed. Assuming that a friend is a person who is kind to you, who trusts you and whom you can trust in turn, who listens to you and whom you listen to, who understands you and whom you understand, and that a true friend has the courage to tell you when you are wrong and is there to help you find a solution, a justice system in the best interests of the child should be dedicated to reproducing these ideals.

Below is an excerpt from this document that brings to the fore a system of standards that provides a well-established framework for shaping juvenile justice and for real interventions in juvenile justice.

Information and advice

As regards the first contact with the judicial system or other competent authorities (such as police, immigration, educational, social or health care services), children and their parents should be informed immediately and appropriately throughout the process about, inter alia:

  1.  Their rights, in particular the specific rights of children in judicial or non-judicial proceedings affecting or likely to affect them, as well   as the means of redress available if their rights have been violated, including the possibility of judicial, non-judicial or other   proceedings. This may include information on the likely length of proceedings, the availability of redress and independent complaints   mechanisms;
  2.  The system and procedures involved, taking into account the child’s special place and role, and the different procedural steps;
  3.  Existing mechanisms for assisting the child when participating in judicial or non-judicial proceedings;
  4.  The appropriateness and possible consequences of particular judicial or non-judicial proceedings;
  5.  Where appropriate, the charges or outcome of the complaint;
  6.  Date and place of court proceedings and other relevant events, such as hearings, if the child has been personally affected;
  7.  The general progress and outcome of the proceedings or action;
  8.  Availability of protective measures;
  9.  Existing mechanisms for review of decisions concerning the child;
  10.  The possibilities of obtaining compensation from the defendant or the State through the judicial process, alternative civil proceedings   or other processes;
  11.  The availability of services (health, psychological, social, translation and interpretation and other) or organisations that can provide   assistance, and the means of accessing these services together with emergency financial support, where appropriate;
  12.  The availability of any special arrangements designed to protect, as far as possible, the best interests of the children if they live in   another State.
  • Children should receive information and advice in a manner appropriate to their age and maturity, in language that is understandable and sensitive to cultural and gender differences.
  • As a rule, information should be communicated directly to the child and parents as well as to legal representatives. Informing parents should not be an alternative to informing the child.
  • Materials in the best interests of the child containing relevant legal information should be made available and widely disseminated, and special information services for children, such as websites and dedicated helplines, should be established.
  • Information on any allegations against the child should be communicated to both the child and the parents so that they understand the exact allegation and the possible consequences.

Protection of private and family life

  • The privacy and personal data of children who are or have been the subject of judicial, non-judicial or other proceedings should be protected in accordance with national law. In general, this means that information or personal data that could directly or indirectly reveal the identity of the child, including images, detailed description of the child or his/her family, names or addresses, audio and video recordings, etc. may not be disclosed or published, in particular in the media.
  • Member States should prevent, by means of legislative measures or through the control of self-regulatory mechanisms, violations by the media of the right to privacy.
  • Member States should restrict access to all records or documents containing personal or sensitive data relating to children, in proceedings concerning children. Where the transfer of personal or sensitive data is considered necessary, Member States should regulate the transfer in accordance with the relevant data protection legislation, considering the best interests of the child.
  • The hearing of children or the giving of evidence in judicial, non-judicial or other proceedings should take place, where appropriate, on camera.

As a rule, only those directly involved may be present, provided they do not prevent the child from testifying.

  • Professionals working with and on behalf of children should observe strict rules of confidentiality unless there is a risk of harm to the child.

Security (special preventive measures)

  • In all judicial, non-judicial or other proceedings, children should be protected from harm, including intimidation, retaliation and secondary victimisation.
  • Professionals working with and on behalf of children, where appropriate, should be subject to regular checks, in accordance with national law and without prejudice to the independence of the judiciary, to ensure that they are fit to work with children.
  • Where the alleged offender is a parent, family member or carer, special preventive measures shall apply.

Training of specialists

  • All professionals working with and on behalf of children should receive appropriate interdisciplinary training on the rights and needs of children of different age groups and the types of procedures that are appropriate for them.
  • Professionals who come into direct contact with children should also be trained to communicate with children of all ages and stages of development, as well as with children in special situations of vulnerability.

Multidisciplinary approach

  • While fully respecting the child’s right to privacy and family life, close cooperation between different professionals should be encouraged to fully understand the child and assess his/her legal, psychological, social, emotional, physical and cognitive situation.
  • A common assessment framework should be established for professionals working with or on behalf of children (such as lawyers, psychologists, doctors, police officers, immigration officials, social workers and mediators) in procedures or actions directly or indirectly concerning children, with the aim of providing the necessary support to decision-makers, enabling such procedures or actions to best serve the interests of the child in a given situation.
  • During the implementation of a multidisciplinary approach, professional rules on confidentiality should be respected.

Deprivation of liberty

  • Any form of deprivation of the liberty of children should be a measure of last resort taken for the shortest possible period of time.
  • When deprivation of liberty is imposed, children should, as a rule, be detained separately from adults. Where children are detained together with adults, this should be a decision taken for exceptional reasons and based solely on the best interests of the child. In all circumstances, children should be detained in premises appropriate to their needs.

Given the vulnerability of children deprived of their liberty, the importance of family ties and the promotion of reintegration into society, the competent authorities should actively guarantee and support respect for the rights of the child as laid down in international and European instruments. In addition to other rights, children should have the right to:

  • Maintain regular and meaningful contact with parents, family and friends through visits and correspondence, unless restrictions are imposed in the interests of justice and the child. Restricting this right should never be used as a means of punishment.
  • Receipt of education, vocational guidance and training, appropriate health care and the right to enjoy freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as access to leisure activities, including physical education and sport;
  • Access to programmes that prepare the child in advance for return to the community, with due regard to the child’s emotional and physical needs, family relationships, housing, educational and employment opportunities, and socio-economic status.
  • Deprivation of liberty of unaccompanied minors, including those seeking asylum, and separated children should never be motivated or based solely on lack of residence status.



„Proceduri de lucru pentru recuperarea psiho-socială a copilului victimă – Ghid pentru profesioniști”, Save the Children Association Iasi, september 2015;

“Orientările Comitetului de Miniștri al Consiliului Europei privind justiția în interesul copilului” adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 17 November 2010 and explanatory memorandum – Council of Europe programme “Construirea unei Europe cu și pentru copii”,