Legal aid for children in criminal proceedings: developing and sharing best practices (LA CHILD)
Project website: https://lachild.eu
On 1 February 2020, the Law Institute of Lithuania (LIL) as the main coordinator started implementing the EU co-funded project Legal aid for children in criminal proceedings: developing and sharing best practices (LA CHILD). The Project is implemented in consortium with partners from Belgium (Defence for Children (DCI-Belgium)) and Albania (Center of Integrated Legal Services and Practices (CILSP)).
The Project’s overall objective is to contribute to enhancing protection of procedural rights of children in conflict with the law and to foster coherent implementation of Directive 2016/800 in the EU Member States as regards legal aid to children. For this purpose, it developed common standards, showcased best practices and innovative approaches that can be replicated across the EU as well as organized capacity building activities.
The Project activities started with the analysis of regulation and practices in European states when providing legal aid for children in conflict with the law. The prepared report identifies the main challenges encountered as well as best approaches to achieving effective and efficient legal aid for children. Later on, the Project team drafted the Guidelines on providing legal for children in conflict with the law and its ‘child friendly’ version. In addition, in the end of 2020, international conference took place in Vilnius, where experts from different states shared their knowledge and insights. Furthermore, in 2021 tailored practical trainings to lawyers, judges, legal aid board members and social workers will take place in Lithuania, Belgium and Albania. The final event of the Project is a roundtable discussion where key Project outcomes and best practices will be presented and discussed.
The Project is co-funded by the Justice Programme of the European Union, and its activities are carried out from 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2021.
REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL REGULATION AND PRACTICE DEALING WITH THE LEGAL AID FOR CHILDREN IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW
Documentary and field research were carried out by the partners of the project in their countries: DCI-Belgium in Belgium, the Center of Integrated Legal Services and practices in Albania and the Law Institute of the Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences in Lithuania. DLA Piper conducted a literature review in 11 other European countries.
National studies provide an assessment of legal aid for children in conflict with the law in 14 European countries. These research studies examine the practical implementation of European standards and national regulations on legal aid for minors in conflict with the law.
REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL REGULATION FROM OUR PARTNERS
(desk and field research)
REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL REGULATION BY DLA PIPER (desk research)
REVIEW OF THE EUROPEAN REGULATION AND PRACTICE
LEGAL AID FOR CHILDREN IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW
IN INTERNATIONAL AND EUROPEAN INSTRUMENTS
In this research study you will find a compilation of international and European instruments that are relevant regarding legal aid for children in conflict with the law. This study provides a large overview of the international standards and therefore presents some essential requirements for national legal aid systems to be accessible and adapted.
LEGAL AID FOR CHILDREN IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS:
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE CURRENT EUROPEAN NATIONAL FRAMEWORKS
This research study carried out in the framework of the LA Child’s project presents the legal aid regulations and practices in European states. The comparative study of the national desk and field research highlights the main issues of legal aid systems and identifies original and inspiring practices to be promoted.
This research study will allow you to learn more about legal aid for children in conflict with the law across Europe in the light of existing international standards.
The research study is available in:
GUIDELINES ON LEGAL AID FOR CHILDREN
The Guidelines on Legal Aid for Children are based on the research on national legislation and international instruments carried out by the “LA Child“ project, as well as on the vast experience shared by the speakers, academics and practitioners – some of the leading experts on legal aid for children across Europe – at the Project's International Conference (click here).
The aim of these guidelines is to make the principles and advice identified in the research accessible across Europe and to all stakeholders involved in legal aid for children who are suspects or accused in criminal proceedings.
These guidelines are addressed to all professionals involved in or affected by the provision of legal aid to children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings. Above all, we hope that they will be a practical and useful tool for all lawyers providing legal assistance to children in criminal proceedings. The guidelines can help them to become more familiar with international and European standards, as well as to reflect on their own experiences and to find guidance and inspiring practices to improve them.
Secondly, given that child-friendly legal aid also depends on principles and effective organisation of legal aid by the international community, these guidelines should be of interest to policy makers and legal aid institutions. Our aim is to provide a clear and precise definition of how to improve the provision of legal aid to children in criminal proceedings and to highlight concrete ways to achieve this.
The Guidelines are available in these languages:
CHILD-FRIENDLY GUIDELINES: “Know your rights!”
The project also produced a guide for young individuals "Know your rights! Guide for minors who are suspected, accused or convicted of an offence" (click here).
It explains in simple terms the issues that arise for juveniles who are suspected or accused of committing a crime when they come into contact with law enforcement. It will be distributed to relevant public authorities and legal aid providers.
The Guide is available in the following languages:
MATERIALS OF THE INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CONFERENCE
On February 11th, we invited academics and practitioners of criminal justice, child rights and legal aids to attend the conference “Legal Aid for Children in Criminal Proceedings: child-friendly legal aid in focus”. The main objective of this conference was to provide an overview of the access to legal aid in the EU and in different national contexts as well as sharing recommendations and best practices regarding this crucial topic.
– Welcoming remarks – word by Benoit Van Keirsbilck, Defence for Children International Belgium (DCI-Belgium), incoming member of the UN Committee
on the Rights of the Child
– Agnė Limantė (Law Institute of the Lithuanian Center for Social Sciences): Introduction of the „LA Child“ project
– Barbel Heinkelmann (European Commission): „The role of the lawyer when defending a child – the perspectives of Directive (EU) 2016/800 on procedural
safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings and Directive (EU) 2016/1919 on legal aid“
– Inês Carvalho Sá (European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA)): „The challenges faced by the lawyer when defending a child“
– Anna Giudice (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)): „Ensuring quality legal aid for children in contact with the criminal justice system:
international standards and case studies from West and North Africa“
– Elisabeth Alofs, Sofie De Bus (Free University of Brussels) „The role of the lawyer in Belgian youth court proceedings: legal and societal challenges“
– Ton Liefaard (Education of Leiden Law School): „Child-friendly justice in Europe: how can we make sure that all children benefit?“
– Vicky Kemp (Criminal Justice Research Centre, School of Law, University of Nottingham): „Legal aid and young suspects’ legal rights in England and Wales“
– Rūta Vaičiūnienė, Simonas Nikartas (Law Institute of the Lithuanian Center for Social Sciences): „Legal aid for children in Lithuania“
Eva Gangneux (Defence for Children International Belgium (DCI-Belgium)): „Legal aid for children in Belgium“
Anjeza Puka (Center of Integrated Legal Services and Practices (CILSP)): „Legal aid for children in Albania“
– Khaled Quzmar (Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI Palestine)): „Legal aid for children: Palestinian experience“
– Plarent Ruka (Center for Integrated Legal Services and Practices, former member of the Albanian Supreme Court): „Challenges of the legal aid for children in
conflict with the law. Albanian case“
– Raminta Goštautaitė (Prosecutor General‘s Office of the Republic of Lithuania): „Young suspects in Lithuanian criminal proceedings“
– Marcos De Barros (Terre des hommes Hungary (Tdh Hungary)): „Presentation of the project CLEAR-Rights: Enhancing legal assistance and access to justice for
children in conflict with the law in Europe“
A. Limantė, R. Vaičiūnienė and J. Apolevič, researchers at the Institute of Law of the Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, in the prestigious International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health have published an article "Child-Friendly Legal Aid and Individual Assessment of Children in Conflict with the Law: Building the Basis for Effective Participation", which, among other things, presents the research carried out during the LA CHILD project.
– Conference “Legal aid for children in criminal proceedings: child-friendly legal aid at focus” organized by the Law Institute recognised by international organisations
– A. Limantė: are we moving towards child-friendly legal aid?
– The project and its research were presented at the Expert Group Meetings on the UNODC tool for the evaluation of legal aid in criminal justice systems (Expert group meetings on development of a UNODC assessment tool on legal aid in criminal justice systems). On 2020-11-18 a presentation „Lessons learned during research projects on legal aid“ was delivered. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASWLWuXN9nc&feature=youtu.be
– Project research was presented in a international conference „International Legal Aid Group Conference 22-24 June 2021“. A presentation „Legal aid for children in conflict with the law in Europe: towards child-friendly legal aid?“ was made. Information (including the slides) is available here: https://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/about-us/international-legal-aid-conference-2021