Children’s rights

Implementation in various areas

The implementation of children’s (procedural) rights has relevance for a variety of areas, among others including:

  • Civil law
  • (Youth) criminal law
  • Asylum and immigration law
  • The area of education
  • The area of health

We advise all professionals and specialists in the legal system, educational institutions, legislative bodies, as well as policymaking circles and the general public with regard to a child-friendly legal system. Benefit from our expertise – get in touch for more information.

Civil law

In the area of civil law, innumerable questions arise in relation to the implementation of a child-friendly legal system.

  • Are you, for example, a civil court judge and wondering whether a hearing involving a child will be conducted in an age-appropriate manner?
  • Or would you like to find out, as a member of the child and adult protection authorities in charge of the case, in which constellations it would make sense to appoint a legal representative for the child in child protection proceedings? 

Possible example topics:

  • Divorce/separation (incl. marriage protection and modification proceedings)
  • Custody disputes involving unmarried parents
  • Visitation rights disputes involving unmarried parents
  • Maintenance law (including adult child maintenance)
  • Child protection (including welfare accommodation)
  • International child abduction
  • International child protection
  • Adoption
  • Parentage law
  • Naming rights
  • Rights of individuals

(Youth) criminal law

Children and young people come into contact with criminal law in many different ways and are dependent on the proper implementation of their rights by police officers, youth prosecutors, public prosecutors and legal representatives, among others.

  • How can you ensure that children and young people within your canton, who are experiencing domestic violence, are informed and advised in a manner that is age-appropriate?
  • Is there a corresponding offer from an advisory centre (e.g. victim support)?
  • Are underage victims made aware of their rights (including the right to information, legal representation) in a manner that is age-appropriate?
  • In addition to the necessary legal knowledge, do the lawyers for young defendants also have the necessary training in dealing with minors?
  • Does the court refrain from a third cross-examination of underage victims?

Asylum and immigration law

Asylum-seeker minors, be they accompanied or unaccompanied, are in a particularly vulnerable situation, and special measures are required to counteract discrimination.

  • As a qualified specialist, are you looking to find out how the right of participation for minors in civil and immigration law is implemented at a federal and cantonal level?
  • Are refugee children and young people receiving the required support, for example with regard to their right to health and their right to education?

Area of education

Children’s rights are particularly relevant in the context of education. Everyone has a right to education.

  • What support options are there for children with a disability, so that they can exercise their right to participate in education proceedings?
  • What must be observed in relation to the rights of minors during procedures where disciplinary measures have been instituted? Are the children’s participation opportunities being respected and preserved?
  • As an employee in the area of school social work or school psychology services, what can you do to reinforce children’s rights?

Area of health

The status of the child is also important in relation to medical treatment.

  • For example, as the head of an institution, are you asking yourself what decisions the children and young people that live in your institution are allowed to make without the consent of their parents, with regard to medical treatment?
  • Would you like to know more about aspects that relate to the rights of children and young people in their participation in health matters?

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed in New York on 20 November 1989 and is one of the most frequently ratified human rights treaties. With its ratification, Switzerland is likewise committed to actively campaigning for the rights of children.

There are four basic principles:

  • Right to non-discrimination (Art. 2 CRC)
  • Best interests of the child (Art. 3 No. 1 CRC)
  • Right to life, survival and development (Art. 6 CRC)
  • Right to participation (Art. 12 CRC)

As well as the CRC, Switzerland has also ratified the three supplementary Optional Protocols. The third Optional Protocol enables children and their representatives to assert the violation of their rights independently and directly before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in cases when appeals at the national level have been exhausted.

Child-friendly Justice Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

In 2010, the Council of Europe adopted the guidelines on child-friendly justice. These guidelines serve as a practice-oriented aid for the implementation and promotion of child-friendly standards in the individual Member States.

The Child-Friendly Justice Guidelines are to be applied in all situations in which it can be assumed that minors will come into contact with the respective criminal, civil or administrative bodies and services.

The basic principles are:

  • Participation
  • The best interests of the child
  • Dignity
  • Protection from discrimination
  • Rule of law

The general elements of a child-friendly judicial system are:

  • Information und advice
  • Protection of private and family life
  • Safety (specific preventive measures)
  • Training of professionals
  • Multidisciplinary approach
  • Deprivation of liberty

Child-friendly Justice Guidelines

Further international foundations

An important international basis for the rights of children is, for example, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). In particular, this specifies the right to participation for children with disabilities (Art. 7 para. 3 CRPD).

Although children and children’s rights are rarely explicitly mentioned in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), the convention and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) continue to play a significant role in the ongoing development of children’s rights.

Worth mentioning here are the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention).