symbolic illustration of Article 40 of the UNCRC.

UNCRC Article 40

I have the right to get legal help and to be treated fairly if I have been accused of breaking the law

Article 40 of the UNCRC says that when a child or young person gets legal help, they should get it without being discriminated against in any way. Their best interests must be considered.

Being tried for a crime

Children and young people have the same rights when being tried as adults do. Like all people who are accused of breaking the law, they have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. All their legal rights should be upheld while they are being tried.

Children and young people also have the right to privacy while they are being tried, and this should be respected by everyone. The media shouldn’t publish stories or information that could violate this right.

Any young person who is tried in a court should be treated without discrimination, and care should be taken to make sure this is the case. People who need a translator in court – including those with disabilities – should have access to one.

A minimum age

The UNCRC says that there should be an age below which people cannot be tried as a criminal.

In Scotland, people under 12 cannot be tried as criminals. However, this is below the UN’s minimum acceptable standard, which is for nobody under 14 to be tried in this way.

A part in the process

The UNCRC says that young people should have some say in how the justice system works for people their age. This can involve participating in helping prevent crimes from happening— perhaps by creating community resources for local people to use.