Assessment : Aspiration 8


By 2020, States –

  • should have legislated the minimum age of criminal responsibility to be 12 years or above;
  • should have adopted and implemented legislation explicitly requiring the separation of children and adults at all points of detention;
  • should have introduced a system for expediting investigations and prioritising cases where the defendant or any victim or witness is a child;
  • should have programmes in place to ensure that judicial personnel, law enforcement agents and other professionals involved in the criminal justice system are sensitised to provide child-friendly services;
  • in collaboration with national partners, should have embarked on a campaign to sensitise professionals and the general public on the importance of a child-friendly and a rights-based approach in the justice sphere;
  • should have enhanced the capacity of law enforcement agencies to ensure accountability to children;
  • should have abolished the use of the death penalty in respect of offences committed by children; States should have ensured that the death sentence may not be imposed on pregnant women or the mothers of young children;
  • should have taken special measures allowing for diversion and restorative justice in respect of children; States should be referring children to juvenile justice institutions where they can learn skills and be reintegrated into society without compromising their psychological or physical well-being;
  • should have reviewed sentencing procedures in order that a non-custodial sentence is always considered when parents or primary caregivers of children are being sentenced; States should be providing for appropriate alternative care for children whose parent or primary caregiver is imprisoned; States should have established special institutions to house children in prison, under very exceptional circumstances when non-custodial measures cannot be considered, and it is in a child’s best interests to live with a parent or caregiver in prison;
  • should have set up alternative measures to pre-trial detention, such as bail and written notices to appear at court;
  • should have developed reliable mechanisms for collecting accurate, disaggregated data on the practice and administration of criminal justice for children, including case load data for children, case characteristics data and resource data based on juvenile justice indicators in line with international child-rights standards;
  • should have started to develop a proportionate and gender- sensitive response to offending by girls;
  • should have put in place regular independent inspections and monitoring of detention facilities by qualified bodies, at times unannounced, with full access to facilities and the freedom to interview children and staff in private;
  • should have reviewed and developed prevention strategies addressing the root causes of offending, such as poverty and inequality, by emphasising inclusion and access to basic services, with children at particular risk of coming into conflict with the law, being specifically targeted with support services;
  • should have established a clear child protection policy in closed institutions that is known to all staff, with step-by-step procedures on how allegations and disclosures of violence are to be handled;
  • should ensure appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation support services for children in conflict with the law, including through a multi-disciplinary approach involving the social workforce;
  • should ensure that the specific needs of child victims and witnesses of crime are addressed before, during and after trial.

By 2020, the African Children’s Committee -

  • should have elaborated on the juvenile justice system, exploring, for example, the respective responsibility of parents, communities and schools for educating children about wrongfulness or right and wrong.

By 2020, research institutions -

  • should have conducted research to identify the background, characteristics and social reintegration needs of girl offenders;
  • should have carried out research to identify causes, patterns and effects of criminal behaviour of children.