07 March 2013
Law Society Hosts Major Eu Conference On Child Friendly Justice
From left to right
Alan Hunter, Chief Executive, of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, Lord Chief Justice, The Right Honourable Sir Declan Morgan, David Ford, Minister for Justice, Michael Robinson, President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland
The Law Society of Northern Ireland is hosting a major conference entitled ‘Child Friendly Justice - Guaranteeing Children’s Rights within the EU Legal Framework’.
Commenting the President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, Mr Michael Robinson said:
“The Law Society is delighted to welcome this important conference to Belfast at a time when the issue of Childrens Rights is very much at the forefront of discussions within the European Union. This conference takes place during Ireland’sPresidency of the Council of the European Union and is a reflection of the growing recognition of Northern Ireland’s significance in the European Legal community”.
The two day conference, which is being hosted by the Law Society of Northern Ireland and organised in co-operation with the (ERA) Academy of European Law, is taking place at Law Society House in Belfast today and tomorrow.
Delegates attending the first day of conference had the opportunity to hear from a number of distinguished and key note speakers including the Law Society of Northern Ireland Chief Executive, Alan Hunter, the Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland, the Right Honourable Sir Declan Morgan and the Justice Minister, David Ford MLA.
Addressing the conference the Justice Minister said:
“I welcome the opportunity to address this prestigious conference. Ensuring that the justice system is child-friendly is hugely important, which is why I have made it a priority within my wide programme of reform.
My Department is making excellent progress in this regard. For example there are now no under 18s being held in Hydebank Wood and there have been a number of improvements throughout the judicial system including Court Service guidance on the operation of youth courts and measures to help vulnerable witnesses including the roll out of the NSPCC Young Witness Service.
I was particularly pleased that during a recent meeting with the Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, he was encouraged by the steps we have taken in Northern Ireland to deliver a youth justice system which is compliant with children’s rights. Further improvements can however be made and I have no doubt that this event will prove to be beneficial to all concerned as it provides a real opportunity for the sharing of knowledge and best practice from experts around Europe"
Amongst those attending the conference were senior members of the Judiciary, legal practitioners, civil servants from across Northern Ireland and other European jurisdictions.
Speaking about the conference, Dr Wolfgang Heusel, Director of the ERA said:
“The rights of children within the member states’ legal systems and the development of minimum standards for a child-friendly justice throughout the EU have come high up the political agenda of the European institutions. ERA, a genuine European actor providing legal and judicial training and a forum for legal debate across European jurisdictions, is delighted to be back to Belfast with a conference on such topical and sensitive issue”.
Rebecca O Donnell, Senior Policy Adviser, Save the Children EU Office said:
“Policy makers and practitioners around Europe are increasingly focussing on what children’s rights mean for how justice systems engage with children, whether they be claimants, accused, victims, witnesses or family members. This seminar provides an excellent opportunity to explore how the EU and the Council of Europe contribute to ensuring that the best interests of children are secured in judicial and administrative proceedings across Europe”.