My Lawyer, My Rights


The right to access (free) legal counsel and representation throughout criminal judicial proceedings is essential to enable children to effectively enjoy and exercise their rights. A good defence plays a major role in the measures taken by the judge and the child’s ability to reintegrate and rehabilitate after the criminal justice proceedings. All the way through a proceeding, the child needs to know how and when to contact the lawyer, what to expect, what to do if this service is not satisfactory, etc.

But even though the right to legal representation for child suspects is recognized, it is unevenly applied by States. Measures taken at the national level are insufficient and the access to a lawyer for children remains a challenge in most European countries.

 The project aims to:

Support Member States and advocate for the proper application of the EU Directive on the right of access to a lawyer in the field of juvenile justice, through practical tools and recommendations (including the principles of the Child Friendly Justice Guidelines).

Assist Member States in establishing national structures specialised in child legal aid in compliance with the EU Directive, the CRC, the CFJ Guidelines, etc.

Define the role, basic training required of children’s lawyers and the conditions for an effective right to defence.

Provide information and tools to Member States on the practical implementation of the Directive in juvenile justice systems and on existing best practices in the other Member States.

Provide Youth Lawyers with information and practical tools to better exercise their role and empower them (through awareness-raising sessions in addition to the produced material) to become agents of change.

The target group is mainly policy makers at national level and youth lawyers, as well as other key actors who may help in the implementation of the Directive (Bar associations, training institutes, universities, legal clinics, etc.). The project targets all EU national systems and key actors, and additional activities will be implemented in select EU countries.

Expected results:

• A better overview on how children feel and experience their right of access to a lawyer.

• Identification of obstacles for a correct implementation of the concerned Directives in juvenile cases, as well as good practices already in place.

• Improved level of compliance of national practices with the concerned EU Directives.

• Improved knowledge on the subject among different actors involved in the juvenile justice systems as well as an increased awareness on EU standards and law.

• This issue is placed as a priority in the political agendas.

Partners of the project

BELGIUM - Defence for Children International (DCI) - (coordinator)

ITALY - Defence for Children International (DCI)

POLAND - Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

IRELAND - Child Law Clinic (UCC)

NETHERLANDS - Defence for Children International (DCI)

BULGARIA - Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

BELGIUM - Child Circle

Associated partners

DLA Piper – European Law firm

European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) - association of independent specialist defence lawyers

Project Duration: 1st September 2016 - 31st August 2018


2013 | ® Defence for Children International Italia

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