Children who are involved in criminal proceedings in Europe, as a suspect or accused person, are vulnerable in the justice system due to inadequate access to legal assistance, despite efforts made by the EU. We must secure children’s equal access to free and specialized quality legal assistance to ensure a justice process that is fair and centered on the needs of the child. Terre de Hommes, PILnet and their partners, supported by the EU, launched “CLEAR-Rights: Enhancing legal assistance and access to justice for children in conflict with the law in Europe” because we are committed to ensuring the rights of children involved in criminal proceedings are upheld.
Inspired by the access to justice for children sessions at PILnet’s 2019 Forum, the partners involved in CLEAR Rights are developing innovative guidelines and tools for legal professionals to advance child-friendly justice. The project addresses current gaps and challenges of the European legal aid system to ensure that children have free access to quality legal assistance whenever they need it by:
- Building the capacity of European lawyers,
- Creating a network of lawyers and advocates to exchange best practices,
- Raising awareness of decision makers of this issue, and
- Encouraging partnerships between these lawyers and child-focused NGOs who represent these children.
Using PILnet’s convening power, we will invite lawyers from law firms, bar associations, CSOs, and others to join a network of professionals dedicated to providing free legal assistance to children involved in the law. Additionally we will launch and support clearinghouse mechanisms in targeted European countries and the whole region to broker partnerships to serve the needs of these children and the organizations that support them.
CLEAR Rights is only one part of PILnet’s efforts to improve access to justice for children in Europe. To help is shape that work, lawyers should contact our Hungarian offices and NGOs, should take this survey to tell us what legal needs your organization has.
The “CLEAR-Rights: Enhancing legal assistance and access to justice for children in conflict with the law in Europe” project is implemented under the lead of Terre des hommes Regional Office in Hungary in partnership with PILnet(Hungary), Alliance of Lawyers for Human Rights (France), Terre des hommes Romania, Defencefor Children The Netherlands, and Defence for Children International –Belgium.
CLEAR-Rights is co-funded by the Justice Programme of the European Union (2014-2020)