DUBAI -- The Regional Workshop on "The Right of Children's Access to Justice" has urged the Arab states to ratify international child conventions and harmonise them with national legislations on the rights of children.

The workshop was organised by the Emirates Association for Human Rights, in partnership with the Child Rights International Network (CRIN). Representatives of civil society organisations from many Arab countries and groups of international organisations working in the Arab region, such as the Defence for Children International, DCI, and the Arab Institute for Human Rights attended the event.

The forum recommended the establishment and adoption of a national legislation for setting up specialised courts to deal with delinquent children. This takes into account the setting up of courts in the presence of judges, prosecutors, police, behavioural monitors, qualified and trained psychologists and social workers to deal with children's issues and raise the age of criminal responsibility according to international standards. It also suggested inclusion of alternative penalties in legislation and focus on integration and rehabilitation.

The workshop called for increased penalties in child abuse cases, including child labour, legal assistance for all children, the inclusion of restorative justice in national legislation, the drafting of a unified model of children's law in the Arab region, and the provision of exemption from judicial fees in all stages and procedures.

Regarding awareness, education, and advocacy, the workshop recommended raising awareness and building capacity for formal and informal specialised cadres in the field of children's justice, empowering displaced children and refugees to reach justice. It also proposed preparation of a specialised annual report on children's access to justice, as well as the promotion of studies and research related to children's issues.

It called for raising awareness through the adoption of arts, literature, painting, music and other modern educational methods. The aim is to educate children and strengthen their knowledge on the concepts of their rights. It also called for the inclusion of concepts of children's rights, and principles of human rights and democracy in textbooks and school curricula.

The forum suggested that the Emirates Human Rights Association to hold a specialised regional workshop on restorative justice, and called on civil society organisations to establish databases on children, educate media persons and parliamentarians on child rights, and form specialised teams of psychologists and sociologists to address violence.

Mohammed Salem Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Emirates Human Rights Association, concluded the three-day regional workshop held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dubai. The first day was devoted to discussing and reviewing the Arab models of children's access to justice in the UAE, Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine.

On the second day, international principles and standards of restorative justice, the role of civil society organisations in promoting children's access to justice, complaint mechanisms at the level of international organisations, strategies for enabling children to enjoy their rights and access to justice, and juvenile justice in the Arab world were presented. On the third day, a field visit was organised for the delegates participating in the workshop to the Juvenile Care Centre in Abu Dhabi and the Mobile Court to acquaint with the UAE model and the extent of the progress achieved by the UAE in children's access to justice and in the rehabilitation and integration of children.

Source: Emirates News Agency