In Italy, every year around 31.000 to 35.000 children get in contact with the criminal justice system as suspects or accused persons. This contact proves to be highly sensitive not least because of the criminal offences that are investigated or prosecuted and the harm inflicted on individuals and the society, but also because a highly regulated and formalised justice system is challenged to operate in a child-friendly manner, while upholding principles of rule of law and due process.
In response to these challenges, the project CREW (Contribute to Reinforce and Enhance the rights of children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings) set out to contribute to strengthening the rights of children in contact with the criminal justice system as suspects or accused persons. The project was developed and implemented by Defence for Children International – Italy in partnership with the Department for Juvenile and Community Justice of the Ministry of Justice, and with co-funding from the European Commission.
CREW was implemented as a multi-step consultative process to gather and analyse data, expertise and hands-on experience from a range of state and non-state actors, as well as children and young people, on the status and quality of implementation of the Directive in Italy. The project activities included the administration of a survey questionnaire in all 29 judicial districts, consultations of stakeholders and adolescents in 3 regions and 6 cities (north, centre and south of Italy), as well as a consultative process with an interagency and multi-disciplinary round table.
By proposing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the principles of child-friendly justice as a guide for analysis, the CREW methodology aims at encouraging officials and professionals involved in the individual assessment to work together with a holistic and child-centred approach to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the child’s perspective.