Croatia Ranks 24th On Access To Justice For Children

Lauren Simmonds

Where does Croatia ranks on access to justice for children?

According to the Child Rights International Network (CRIN), the Republic of Croatia has been ranked 24th in the whole world on how effectively children can use the justice system to defend their legal rights, according to their press release on February 16, 2016.

The new report entitled ‘Rights, Remedies and Representation’, takes into account whether or not people under the age of 18 can bring lawsuits when their rights are in some way violated, it also looks into the legal resources readily available to them and whether international law on children’s rights as we know is applied in our courts.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) forms part of long standing domestic law here in Croatia and therefore can be directly enforced in the courts. As far as civil proceedings are concerned, children are able to bring proceedings alone if approved, or through an adult representative acting on their behalf. In criminal law, children aged 16 and above can freely submit private criminal charges without outside help. Financial assistance is available to children who hold Croatian citizenship, and for foreign children who are for some reason without a parent or a legal guardian. The downside seems to be that children who don’t fall into the above categories struggle to be able to have the right or help to do the same.

Achieving adequate access to justice for children is very much a work in progress and this interesting report offers an otherwise rarely seen look into how children’s rights are protected and enforced across the world. The report shows data from 197 country reports, researched with the support of hundreds of professionals who work within the law. Its intention is to highlight issues and help various countries improve their access to justice for children on a national level individually.

Veronica Yates (Director of CRIN) stated: “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.”

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.”

Here is a list of the Top 10 ranking countries on the list:

1. Belgium
2. Portugal
3. Spain
4. Finland
5. Netherlands
6. Luxembourg
7. Kenya
8. Iceland
9. Latvia
10. United Kingdom


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