Children's Rights and the Juvenile Justice System in Estonia

Author:Judit Strömpl, Anna Markina

Approaching from the UN Convention of the Right of the Child (UNCRC) and the principle of best interest of the child is mandatory in all decision-makings in all EU countries. However, we can see notable contradictions between the articles of UNCRC, the best interest principle and the practice of juvenile justice systems almost in every EU member state. International organisations and national... (see full summary)

Judit Strömpl Anna Markina
Associate Professor of Social Policy Researcher
University of Tartu University of Tartu
Children’s Rights and
the Juvenile Justice System
in Estonia
1. Introduction
The history of juvenile justice systems in various European and North American countries shows oscilla-
tion between the welfare-based and the punitive model of responding to juvenile o ences. Both models
have positive and negative sides; neither is perfect*1. In both models, the most negative e ect of the juvenile
justice system is its stigmatising and excluding impact on the youth. That is why alternative measures are
needed to prevent and react to delinquent behaviour. Since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
(UNCRC) entered into force, in September 1990, a new, so-called rights-focused approach has been intro-
duced in treatment of juvenile o enders. According to the UNCRC, juvenile o enders are children and
therefore are subject to the speci c rights speci ed in that convention. B. Goldson and J. Muncie note that,
with its coming into force in 1990, the UNCRC bolstered the core provisions contained within the ‘Beijing
Rules’, the ‘Riyadh Guidelines’, and the ‘JDL Rules’ / ‘Havana Rules’.*2 The articles of the UNCRC with the
greatest relevance for juvenile justice systems are these:
Article 3: In all actions concerning children […], the best interests of the child shall be a primary
Article 12 (1): States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views
the right to express those views freely in all matters a ecting the child, the views of the child being
given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
Article 12 (2): For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard
in any judicial and administrative proceedings a ecting the child, either directly, or through a rep-
resentative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national
Article 16 (1): No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her pri-
vacy, family, home or correspondence […].
See, e.g., John A. Winterdyk (ed.). Juvenile Justice: International Perspectives, Models and Trends. CRC Press . –
DOI:./b; John Muncie. Youth & Crime, rd ed. Los Angeles; London; New Delhi; Singapore;
Washington, DC: SAGE ; Cli Roberson. Juvenile Justice: Theory and Practice. CRC Press .
B. Goldson, J. Muncie. Article in International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice  (), pp.  DOI: https://doi.

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