All persons shall, before all tribunals and courts of law, be equal and this also applies to children. During the process of determining charged criminal offence or obligations and rights, juveniles, like everyone else, are entitled to a fair public hearing which must be conducted in the presence of an impartial, competent, and independent tribunal which must be legally established. For some time now, many states have provided very minimal statistical data about the children who have in one way or another been in conflict with the law, and how they have been treated (Lander, 1954, p.
19). This is a matter of concern because there is dire need to have a clearer understanding of the recommendations and elaborate guidance provided by the law in efforts aimed at establishing a juvenile justice administration in compliance with the law. All stakeholders in this crucial task of responding to these children in conflict with the law must acquaint themselves with this requirement so that the plight of juvenile delinquents is put in the right place through other alternative measures such as restorative justice and diversion.
When this is done, not only the juveniles’ best interests will have been served but also the whole society’s short term and long term interests will have been effected. There has been persistent lack of information concerning the many states parties’ measures that are attributed to prevention of law conflict by the children. One of the possible reasons for this phenomenon is lack of comprehensive policies in this important field of juvenile justice system.
Compliance to the legal requirements is therefore a mandatory expectation of the convention on the rights of children (CRC) in order for all states parties to reach the optimum standards in procedural rights (Janice, 1995, p. 16). Procedural rights involve the development as well as the implementation of such above mentioned measures particularly interested in dealing with juveniles in conflict with the law without necessarily having to resort to the normal judicial proceedings. The bottom line in this issue is that liberty deprivation will only be considered as the last resort measure.
For the purpose of understanding the legal rights of the juveniles, it is fundamentally important to have a closer examination of the leading principles that must apply in any comprehensive juvenile justice policy development and implementation. This categorically means that systematic general principles must be applied in addition to the juvenile justice fundamental principles. These principles include, but are not limited to the following. The principle of non-discrimination First and foremost is the principle of non-discrimination.
In basic terms, the principle implies that there must be equal treatment to all juvenile in conflict with the law. The de facto disparities and discrimination must be given particular attention since there is a possibility of lack of consistent policies that should involve the most vulnerable groups of juveniles including the street children as well as those that belong to ethnic, racial, linguistic or religious minorities, the indigenous, the girl child, and also those who have different kinds of disabilities. In addition, it is necessary to give special consideration to children who are repeatedly in conflict with the law.
Children who have this high susceptibility of getting into conflict with the law are referred to as recidivists. Moreover, for this to be effectively accomplished, it is very vital to give training to all professionals who in one way or the other, are involved in the process of the juvenile justice administration (Bloch, 1956, p. 18). It is also desirable that protocols, rules, and regulations are established so as to enhance such equal treatment to juvenile offenders as well as providing compensation, remedies, and redress where necessary.