Article 40: children as criminals, child affair

The wording from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

  1. States parties recognize the right of every child suspected, accused or convicted of violating criminal law to be treated in a manner that promotes the child’s sense of dignity and value, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms strengthens others and takes into account the child’s age and the need to promote social reintegration and the child’s taking on a constructive role in society.

2. For this purpose, the contracting states subordinate consideration the relevant provisions of international agreements in particular,

a) that no child is suspected, accused or convicted of violating criminal law for acts or omissions that were not prohibited under national or international law at the time of their commission;

b) that every child suspected or accused of violating criminal law is entitled to the following minimum guarantees:

I) to be considered innocent until the legal proof of the debt,

II) to be informed immediately and immediately of the allegations made against the child, if necessary by his parents or his guardian, and to receive legal or other appropriate assistance to prepare and exercise his defense,

III) to have his case immediately decided by a competent authority or a competent court, which are independent and impartial, in a fair procedure in accordance with the law, in the presence of legal or other suitable assistance and – unless this is particularly in view of the Age or the child’s situation is considered to be contrary to his or her best interests – in the presence of his parents or guardian,

IV) Not to be compelled to testify or to plead guilty, to question or to have the witnesses of the trial questioned and to obtain the appearance and questioning of the witnesses of the discharge under the same conditions,

V) if it has been convicted of a violation of the criminal law, to have this decision and all measures taken as a result thereof reviewed by a competent higher authority or a competent higher court, which are independent and impartial, in accordance with the law,

VI) to request the free use of an interpreter if the child does not understand or speak the language of the negotiation,

VII) to see his private life fully respected in all stages of the procedure.

What Leo and Lupe say about it.

"In Article 37 we have already learned that children from the age of 14 are ‘under penalty’. That means they can be punished by a court if they break a law! ”Explains Leo’s mother.

"Article 40 states that the ‘innocence assumption’ also applies to every child," reports Ms. Schramm. "This means that a child is considered ‘innocent’ until it can be proven that it was committed!

This law also applies to all adults in Germany. In addition, no child should be convicted of an act that was not prohibited when it was done! ”

"The parents or a lawyer must also immediately inform the child of what they are accused of! If a child has been arrested, they must not be forced to confess by violence or torture! Nor does it have to testify in court if it doesn’t want to! ”Says Leo’s mother.

"If a child doesn’t understand the judge, they have the right to a translator, an ‘interpreter’. An interpreter helps the child understand everything if the language is not right masters. “, says Ms. Schramm.

"Boys and girls have to learn to abide by the law! But a prison sentence is not always the right way to do it! ”Says Leo’s mother.

"It is much better for a child to instead have to help others for a period of time! For example, the court can decide that it should collect garbage in the park, look after animals or help older people! Then the child immediately learns that it can live without violence and hopefully takes a different path! "


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Christina Cherry
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