Just Closer

Closer spaces, closer system, closer Europe

JUST CLOSER | | Movimento Globale per i Diritti dell’Infanzia


When a child comes in contact with the justice system, she/he enters a new and intimidating world, with specific logic, rhythms and language, that is very far from the child’s reality. As a result, many children feel alienated and lost and that the justice system is not based on their needs and rights nor aimed at a true and comprehensive rehabilitation, but mere punishment. This fact harms their well-being, self-esteem, contact with professionals, perception of fairness of the procedures and ability to participate, acceptance and understanding of the outcomes. Most national juvenile justice systems, even when compliant with European and national legislation, are still far from the needs, perspectives and claims of children. There is a practical gap between children’s rights, needs, and views and the operation of juvenile justice where adults largely do not inform, hear or consider the opinions of children. Children feel they do not have the space and opportunity to communicate and express their views. Moreover, professionals working in the juvenile justice system struggle to engage and communicate with children because of the split reality they are working in: the legal world and the world of the child, both with their language, norms and values.

To address these issues, child-friendly language and communication that promotes children’s right to participation in the criminal justice process should be improved. The professionals’ child-friendly communication skills demonstrate respect for the children, emphasize trust in the professionals and the system, provide the means for children to assume ownership of their case and life, and promote self-esteem to evolve and transform a negative experience into a positive outcome.

Implementing the JUST CLOSER project will contribute to making the justice system closer and more aligned with the rights and needs of children who are suspects and/or accused of  crimes. This project promotes the effective participation of children in criminal proceedings, following Directive (EU) 2016/800, and fosters the training of professionals and harmonization of practices in the juvenile justice system in the EU territory.


Project Duration

July 2022 - June 2024



JUST CLOSER aims at improving the respect of suspect or defendant children’s and youth’s procedural rights by valuing their voices and recommendations and promoting their active participation, while creating a hub of positive role models and reinforcing skills of professionals working with and for children.

The specific objectives are:

  • Give children the ability to express their doubts and complaints, request information, claim their rights freely and receive adequate support from independent and supportive professionals and experienced peers.

  • Create opportunities for criminal justice officials and professionals of the participating countries to hear children’s views and engage with them in a constructive exchange of recommendations to promote the progressive implementation of national and EU law in this field.

  • Strengthen cooperation among different European stakeholders foreseeing children’s active participation as a key variable in the respective national systems and contribute to harmonising practice concerning relevant legislation in Member States and EU law.

  • Identify gaps and strengths of the existing legal framework at the EU and national levels and contribute to harmonising practices.

Useful links

La giustizia a misura di minorenne: le voce dei ragazzi e delle ragazze in Italia (IT)

Participatory Needs Assessment Compiled Reports Italy, the Netherlands and Greece (ENG)

Just Closer National Reports on the Youth Justice System - Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy

Just Closer Executive Summaries of the National Reports on the Youth Justice System - Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy


Through integrated and comprehensive activities, the project JUST CLOSER aims at supporting children to express their doubts and complaints, request information, claim their rights freely and receive adequate support (right to information, right to be heard, right to address complaints). JUST CLOSER seeks to provide a space where children and youth can build a safer and more harmonious path from the justice system, create spaces to receive, reflect on and activate youth’s ideas and the EU acquis in criminal proceedings, foster cooperation among youth justice professionals, strengthen cooperation with European stakeholders, and contribute to the harmonization of legislation and practices across Member States.

In particular, activities include:

Establish a group of Youth Leaders (YT&A) composed of young people with experience in the penal system who act as researchers, trainers and role models for other young people. This group will be involved in the following activities:

  1. Accompanied by senior staff members, the YT&A team will conduct a series of consultations with young people and adolescents involved in criminal proceedings to gather their perspectives on the implementation of EU directives. This will be done through various participatory and youth-led research methods such as interviews, creative workshops, focus groups, etc.
  2. At the same time, this group will act as a peer support group for young people involved in criminal proceedings to better understand their rights and the juvenile justice system - its strengths and weaknesses - and to recognise certain relevant safeguards.
  3. As part of these activities, the voices, perspectives and messages of children and young people will be shared through podcasts.
  4. In WP3, YT&A will be involved in training professionals in the justice sector, stimulating their reasoning on the practical implementation of children’s rights, discussing the elements that characterise a "juvenile-friendly justice system", and identifying together the main gaps and possible proposals that could improve the juvenile justice system. Some professionals will become voluntary "ambassadors" of the project, interviewed for their testimonials in short videos/podcasts to be disseminated widely.

The YT&A group will be adequately financially supported to ensure effective and professional participation.

Other activities include the training of professionals, the creation of national and European reports and the development of a Guide to Good Practice on Directive 2016/800 (containing the Letter of Rights ): The Guide covers areas of good practices where professional action is required to guarantee the child’s human rights and wellbeing. The Letter will target children involved in criminal proceedings to inform them about their rights, in compliance with Art. 4 of Directive 2016/800.


Defence for Children International Italia

Young in Prison - Netherlands

Università di Genova - Italy

Università di Valencia - Spain

Amsterdam University - Netherlands

Minister of Justice - Greece

Contact Us

Defence for Children International - Italia

Sede legale e sociale: Piazza Don Andrea Gallo 5-6-7 R - 16124 Genova 
Sede operativa: Via Bellucci 4-6 - 16124 Genova


Tel.010 0899050 Fax 010 0899051
Codice Fiscale 97457060586

Genova Via Bellucci 4-6 mappa
Defence for Children international Italia
Sede legale e sociale: Piazza Don Andrea Gallo 5-6-7 R - 16124 Genova
Sede operativa: Via Bellucci 4-6, 16124 Genova
010 0899050