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Guidelines on Legal Aid for Children

Guidelines for child-friendly legal aid for children in conflict with the law – Recommendations and inspiring practices aimed at legal aid providers and policy makers. 

Whether they are suspected, accused or condemned for an offence, children’s rights can be undermined. It is therefore fundamental that they should have access to child-friendly legal aid. Its existence and availability depends not only on legal aid providers, but also on authorities and policy makers.


The present Guidelines aim to make accessible international standards, recommendations and inspiring practices to support the action of all professionals having an impact on legal aid for children in conflict with the law across Europe.



Read the Guidelines 


Guide for minors who are suspected, accused or convicted of an offence

Entering the justice system can be a difficult and disconcerting experience, especially when you are a minor. Most of the lawyers interviewed for the LA Child project noted that children do not know their rights or where to turn if they need help.


This guide for minors “Know your Rights” is therefore intended to help and guide these young people. In addition to recalling the general rights of children, it explains more specifically who the lawyer is and what role he/she has, how the procedure works, and which persons/services he/she will meet during his/her judicial journey.


The English version of this document is a blank template for all professionals and associations who would like to adapt this guide to their national context. We therefore invite all those interested to consult and download the  “Step by step Manual” which will show you all the steps to create your guide!


The French , Dutch, Lithuanian and Albanian versions are examples of how to adapt the guide to national contexts and procedures. They can either inspire you or you can download them directly to print them if you are a professional working in Belgium, Lithuania or Albania.



Download the Guide 


International Conference

On February 11th, we invited academics and practitioners of criminal justice, child rights and legal aids to attend the conference “Legal Aid for Children in Criminal Proceedings: child-friendly legal aid in focus”. The main objective of this conference was to provide an overview of the access to legal aid in the EU and in different national contexts as well as sharing recommendations and best practices regarding this crucial topic.




Below are the recordings of our speakers as well as the presentations of the research for Albania, Belgium, and Lithuania, presented by the project partners.

-Welcoming remarks – word by Benoit Van Keirsbilck, Defence for Children International Belgium (DCI-Belgium), incoming member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and Introduction of the LA Child project by Agne Limante, Law Institute of the Lithuanian Center for Social Sciences

-Barbel Heinkelmann, European Commission: “The role of the lawyer when defending a child – the perspectives of Directive (EU) 2016/800 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings and Directive (EU) 2016/1919 on legal aid”

-Inês Carvalho Sá, European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA): “The challenges faced by the lawyer when defending a child”

-Anna Giudice, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): “Ensuring quality legal aid for children in contact with the criminal justice system: international standards and case studies from West and North Africa”

-Elisabeth Alofs, Sofie De Bus, Free University of Brussels: “The role of the lawyer in Belgian youth court proceedings: legal and societal challenges”

-Ton Liefaard, Education of Leiden Law School: “Child-friendly justice in Europe: how can we make sure that all children benefit?”

-Vicky Kemp, Criminal Justice Research Centre, School of Law, University of Nottingham: “Legal aid and young suspects’ legal rights in England and Wales”

Presentation of LA CHILD research results: 

-Ruta Vaiciuniene, Simonas Nikartas, Law Institute of the Lithuanian Center for Social Sciences: “Legal aid for children in Lithuania”

-Eva Gangneux, Defence for Children International Belgium (DCI-Belgium): “Legal aid for children in Belgium”

-Anjeza Puka, Center of Integrated Legal Services and Practices (CILSP): “Legal aid for children in Albania”

– Khaled Quzmar, Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI Palestine): “Legal aid for children: Palestinian experience”

– Plarent Ruka , Center for Integrated Legal Services and Practices, former member of the Albanian Supreme Court: “Challenges of the legal aid for children in conflict with the law. Albanian case”

– Raminta Gostautaite, Prosecutor General‘s Office of the Republic of Lithuania: “Young suspects in Lithuanian criminal proceedings”

– Marcos De Barros, Terre des hommes Hungary (Tdh Hungary): “Presentation of the project CLEAR-Rights: Enhancing legal assistance and access to justice for children in conflict with the law in Europe”

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