Information and Toolkits

Advancing the Defence Rights of Children

Manual for practitioners


Criminal proceedings are a daunting prospect for all suspects and accused persons, regardless of age. Child suspects and accused persons, however, are especially likely to be overwhelmed and damaged by the experience of criminal proceedings. Failure to take into consideration their different needs and abilities can have devastating implications for their fair trial rights and their welfare.

Most criminal lawyers are fully aware that child suspects and accused persons need to be treated differently from adults in criminal proceedings, but few have had training on what sort of procedural adaptations are needed to give effect to their rights, and on the best ways to assist their child clients in practice.

In light of this, we have designed this manual to be as helpful as possible to practicing lawyers by highlighting important ‘Dos and Don’ts’, tips, and useful facts.

This manual was produced in the framework of the Advancing the Defence Rights of Children project, led by Fair Trials in collaboration with the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (‘IJJO’), the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, and APADOR-CH, and supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union.