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Tuesday,16 February 2016
Democracy School -
Yemen has been ranked as 141st in the world on how effectively children can use the courts to defend their rights according to new research from Child Rights International Network (CRIN).

The new report, Rights, Remedies and Representation, takes into account whether children can bring lawsuits when their rights are violated, the legal resources available to them, the practical considerations for taking legal action and whether international law on childrens rights is applied in national courts.

Yemen has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), though it is unclear whether the Convention has the force of law. Several laws are inconsistent with the CRC, and the Convention has not been used in courts. Children may bring civil or administrative lawsuits to court to challenge violations of their rights only with the assistance of their guardian, trustee or caretaker, or by a lawyer appointed by their guardian. Childrens testimony is not admissible in court, except in disputes entirely amongst children. Legal aid for children is not available, and pro bono legal assistance is limited. The judicial system and rule of law in Yemen are weak, with frequent political interference with the judiciary, and enforcement of judgments against certain authorities being problematic. There is no independent human rights institution to investigate complaints about childrens rights violations, though a law to establish such a body has been drafted.

Achieving access to justice for children is a work in progress and the report represents a snapshot of the ways childrens rights are protected across the world. The report condenses findings from 197 country reports, researched with the support of hundreds of lawyers and NGOs and is intended to help countries improve access to justice for children nationally.

Director of CRIN, Veronica Yates, said: While the report highlights many examples of systems poorly suited to protecting childrens rights there are also plenty of people using the courts to effectively advance childrens rights.

Our ranking represents how well States allow children access to justice rather than how well their rights are enshrined. However, it is hard to ignore how many countries with deplorable human rights records are on the lower end of the ranking for childrens access to justice.

In the foreword of the report the chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Benyam Dawit Mezmur said: The Committee welcomes this research and already envisages its concrete contribution to its various engagements with State Parties.

Child rights standards in international instruments do not mean much for the lived reality of children if they are not implemented. In particular, if the fundamental rights of children are violated, it is critical that children or those acting on their behalf have the recourse, both in law and in practice, to obtain a remedy to cease, prohibit and/or compensate for the violation.

I hope this study is only the beginning of a new shift in making access to justice for children a priority that will enable other rights to be fulfilled.

On Monday you will find the ranking here,

all of the individual country reports here

and a link to our interactive map here.


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