Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

PACE spells out steps for making juvenile justice more child-friendly

PACE has called on states to set the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 14 years at least, with no exceptions even for serious offences, and for the creation of a range of suitable alternatives to formal prosecution for younger offenders.

Children should be detained as “a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible period of time” and never imprisoned for life, said the Assembly, approving a report by Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC) on “Child-friendly juvenile justice: from rhetoric to reality”.

PACE also suggested that multi-professional teams – including the police, social workers, psychiatric nurses and youth workers – could be set up to help investigate crimes committed by young offenders and offer them and their families support and rehabilitation.

“Finding the best way to deal with juvenile delinquency is a challenging task for all governments, who need to find the right balance between the protection of society and the best interest of the child, as a developing, learning human being who is still open to positive socialising influences,” said the parliamentarians.