Justice for children: an international framework

This course deals with the international framework protecting children who have to testify in court as witnesses, and provides information on the specialisation of services for these victims. This course is specifically geared towards government officials who are tasked with the implementation of specialised services to children who are witnesses with specific emphasis on those who are victims of abuse.

Target audience

This course is aimed at policy makers, politicians, government ministers and officials and all role-players involved in the criminal justice system.

Course content

The course includes the following topics:

The State of the World’s Children

This is an examination of the position of children around the world today, focusing on what is happening to children in different countries and then looking at the position of children in the specific country in which the training is conducted.

International Instruments

These include an overview of the primary International Instruments, with particular focus on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child.

The Concept of Best Interests

The concept of best interests is integral to understanding the International Instruments governing the position of children. This session will examine the concept in detail and highlight its application in both national and international court cases.

Justice for Children

The way in which children are treated by national justice systems is integral to the achievement of the rule of law. This has resulted in increased attention initially on the treatment of children as alleged offenders and the development of international norms and standards for juvenile justice. More recently the focus has moved to the situation of child victims and witnesses which has also now been addressed by the United Nations, and recommendations of the UN General Assembly in response to the UN Report on Violence against Children stress the need to ensure accountability and end impunity for crimes against children.

Model guidelines for the effective prosecution of crimes against children

The Model Guidelines are a practical instrument used in prosecution of crimes against children and the treatment of child victims and witnesses in a manner which is respectful of their rights and needs. It seeks to implement and build upon international human rights norms and standards that address the issues of children as victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system and to ensure the practical application of these standards by prosecutors.

Therapeutic Jurisprudence

Therapeutic Jurisprudence is an interdisciplinary approach to law that focuses on the impact of legal rules, processes and institutions on people's emotional lives and psychological well-being. It is the study of the law's healing potential and envisions incorporating an ethic of care and heightened interpersonal skills into legal practice, thereby creating an ethos whereby legal practitioners and systems place value on the psychological well being of their clients as well as their legal rights and interests. It is a perspective that regards the law (rules of law, legal procedures, and roles of legal actors) itself as a social force that often produces therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences. It is this jurisprudence that underpins the victim-centred approach in law.

Guidelines on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims

The Guidelines provide a useful framework to assist Member States in enhancing the protection of child victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system. Participants will be required to take part in a workshop where they will evaluate how the Guidelines can be accommodated within their own professions.

The Management of Cases involving Children

In order to manage cases involving child witnesses, the development of a national policy framework is imperative. The presentation looks at the purpose of such a policy framework and the key underlying principles.

Specialisation of Services

The nature of sexual offences requires that the professionals involved have a specific understanding of the dynamics of sexual offences. To this end, there has been an international trend towards the specialisation of services of persons working in this field. This presentation will examine the concept of specialisation and explore its implications.

Specialised Courts

There has internationally been a specific focus on the creation of specialised sexual offences courts. This presentation will provide information on the concept of specialised courts and what they entail.

Models for Child Friendly Courts

This presentation will examine different international models as well as a set of minimum standards for specialised courts.


This course is a full 2 day course and runs from 08H30 until 17H00 each day. Each participant receives a training course file containing the course content, which is divided according to the topics covered on each day. In addition, each participant receives a handbook entitled 'Women and Children as Victims in cases of Gender-Based Violence'.

  • Share