New General Comment on children’s rights in the child justice system

Date: 8th October 2019
Category: UNCRC Optional Protocols and General Comments, General Comments, Age of criminal responsibility, Children in conflict with the law

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The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published General Comment No.24 on children’s rights in the child justice system, replacing General Comment No.10 (2007) on children’s rights in juvenile justice.

This new general comment follows the Committee’s call for views to which Together and several members responded with a joint submission.

The general comment reflects the developments that have occurred since 2007 as a result of changing international and regional standards, the Committee’s jurisprudence, new knowledge about child and adolescent development, and evidence of effective practices, including those relating to restorative justice. It reflects concerns such as trends relating to the minimum age of criminal responsibility and the persistent use of deprivation of liberty against children and young people.

Notably, the new general comment encourages countries to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years. The current Scottish legislation, which increased the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12, falls behind these new international standards. Previously, the Committee had recommended a minimum of 12 years of age in the (now replaced) general comment no.10.

The general comment also covers a range of issues, such as issues relating to children recruited and used by armed groups, including those designated as terrorist groups, and children in customary, indigenous or other non-State justice systems.

The Committee’s general comment is intended to provide further explanation of specific rights outlined in United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and guide countries in implementing child justice systems that promote and protect children’s rights.