Access to Justice for Children

You are viewing this website in English. However, if you wish to view it in a different language please select one from the drop-down menu


This set of on-line training materials has been compiled as part of the project entitled Access to Justice for Children with Mental Disabilities. Access to justice is a human right which entails effective access to the justice system including by non-discriminatory participation in fair proceedings and entitlement to appropriate remedies. It is a right which is all too often denied to children and to disabled adults and, as our research has demonstrated, to people at the intersection of these groups – ie children who have mental health conditions (often termed ‘psychosocial disabilities’) or learning difficulties (often termed ‘intellectual disabilities’). The term ‘mental disabilities’ has been used in this project to refer to people with psychosocial disabilities, intellectual disabilities and (for the removal of any doubt) people with autism.

Without effective access to justice, these children will be deprived of opportunities to bring complaints about ill-treatment and to participate in processes which determine how and where they will live and learn. Further, inadequate access to justice means that many such children will experience judicial proceedings themselves as a source of fear, exclusion and trauma.

The importance of  training to the realisation of access to justice rights for children and disabled people has been repeatedly stressed in relevant human rights instruments. However, rights-based training relating to children with mental disabilities is not routinely included in the training available to key professionals working in the justice system. We hope that this set of online educational and training materials will fulfil its aims and draw together ideas and resources that will go some way to filling this gap.

The current materials are not a substitute for face-to-face training and do not (in their own right) lead to any formal accreditation or qualification. However, they are designed to assist educators (including university academics) and providers of training to people in a wide range of professions relevant to the justice system, to bring these issues within the scope of existing or new courses. They have been written in language which will be accessible to people with different professional backgrounds and to people who have a more personal interest in these issues (eg because they are the parent of a child with a mental disability). We therefore hope that they will be used to support self-learning and awareness-raising as well as to facilitate the development of relevant professional and academic training.

The focus of these training materials is the participation of children with mental disabilities in judicial proceedings at the domestic level. They do not deal with post-trial/proceedings issues. Neither do they address in any detail the opportunities which exist to seek redress and engage in advocacy at EU, Council of Europe and UN levels – although links to relevant guidance are here.