Lack of access to a lawyer for children: Czech Republic in breach of the Convention Against Torture

Today, Forum together with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) submitted written information to the UN Committee against Torture ahead of its examination of the periodic report of the Czech Republic.

The two organisations argue that the Czech Republic violates Articles 2, 14 and 16 of the Convention Against Torture by not ensuring access to a lawyer for children below the age of 15 (the age of criminal responsibility) in the pre-trial stage of juvenile justice proceedings.

1273 children younger than 15 were part of these pre-trial stage proceedings in the Czech Republic in 2017 without access to procedural guarantees, including legal counsel, unlike children aged 15-18 have under national legislation.

Children below the age of criminal responsibility do not benefit from such procedural rights and therefore, during the police questioning, they are typically left without any legal assistance and presence of a lawyer who neither can deter the police from resorting to ill-treatment or other abuses, nor work as a protection for police officers in case they face unfounded allegations of ill-treatment.

This situation constitutes a violation of the obligation to prevent torture or acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture under Articles 2 and 16 of the CAT. Additionally, the Czech Republic fails to ensure access legal counsel for the purposes of an effective remedy under Article 14 of the CAT.

The joint submission aims to inform the 63rd session of the Committee Against Torture in April-May 2018 during which the Sixth periodic report of the Czech Republic will be examined.

Read the full joint submission here:

Czech-Republic-Joint-writteninformation- against-torture-2018-ENG (Full text in ENG, PDF)