“Promoting respect for defense of the human rights
of children in the Americas”
Questionnaire for governments and civil society organizations
in the context of the thematic report on juvenile criminal justice in the Americas
This questionnaire has been prepared as part of the Work Program of the Office of Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Commission” or “the IACHR”), in cooperation with the regional office of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (TACRO). Its purpose is to gather information on the current status of juvenile criminal justice systems in the member states of the Organization of American States (hereinafter “OAS”), that will make it possible to identify the advances, weaknesses, obstacles, and challenges involved in ensuring the respect for and guarantee of the human rights of children and adolescents in conflict with the law. The information received will be analyzed and collated for use in preparing and publishing a Thematic Report on Juvenile Criminal Justice in the Americas. This process will make it possible for the IACHTR to make specific recommendations to OAS member states to guide them in their efforts to comply with international obligations in the area of juvenile criminal justice.
It is relevant to point out that this questionnaire uses the following material as a conceptual frame of reference: the “World Study on Violence against Children,”  prepared by Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, a United Nations Independent Expert, in 2006; the report on “Violence against Children and Adolescents;” the study on “Violence against Children in the Caribbean Region;” and, the Manual for the Measurement of Juvenile Justice Indicators,” prepared by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It puts emphasis on compiling basic information on the juvenile criminal justice system that would be available to states on a daily basis.
In this context, the study seeks to identify the advances, obstacles, and potentials of national criminal justice systems specializing in children, to ensure adequate protection of their human rights and to prevent and eradicate the different forms of violence against children.
Information received through the questionnaire will serve as one of the sources of a preliminary version of the report, to be drafted and then circulated for consultation at national, subregional, and regional meetings organized by the Office of Rapporteur in the course of 2009. This consultation process will include the government sector, civil society organizations, regional and international organizations, and academic circles, among other stakeholders committed to promoting respect for and defense of the human rights of children and adolescents in the Hemisphere.
Presentation of responses
The responses to the questionnaire should include data broken down on the basis of sex, age, and ethnic origin.
Responses should be sent by December 5, 2008 to:
Attn: Office of the Rapporteur on Children’s Rights
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Organization of American States
1889 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
I. BASIC INFORMATION
1. Indicate the government institutions involved in responding to the questionnaire:
Name of the person(s) or organization(s)/institution(s)
Date of completion of questionnaire
II. DESCRIPTION OF THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK
2. What is the minimum age of criminal liability in your country?
3. Are there specific acts established as crimes solely because the author is a child or an adolescent? Attach a copy of the relevant laws.
4. What types of guardianship or custody does the national system provide for children and adolescents in conflict with the law?
5. Attach a copy of bills that address issues related to juvenile criminal justice.
III. DESCRIPTION OF THE INSTITUTIONS THAT WORK DIRECTLY IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUVENILE JUSTICE
Judiciary and Office of Attorney General [Ministerio Público]
6. Do you have special courts and government attorney offices for children? What type of training is required of judges and prosecutors who have general functions and spheres of competence? Are there specialized children’s courts in regions, provinces, and communities throughout the country?
7. What is the budget allocated by the state to the Judiciary and the Office of Attorney General? Specify the total amount of this budget allocated to the justice system for children and adolescents in conflict with the law.
8. How do you guarantee legal representation for children and adolescents in conflict with the law?
IV. CENTERS FOR DETENTION OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW AND RESIDENCE FACILITIES (HOMES OR INSTITUTIONS FOR CHILDREN, OR OTHER SUCH FACILITIES)
9. How many detention centers for children and adolescents in conflict with the law are there in your country? Indicate whether there is a decentralized system of detention centers for children and adolescents. Describe the type of detention facilities and the installed capacity of each one of the establishments (for instance, prisons, foster homes, and the like).
10. How many children and adolescents in conflict with the law are there in detention centers?
11. What is the government budget allocated to operation of the detention centers for children and adolescents?
12. What type of training is required of public employees who work full-time in detention centers for children and adolescents?
13. Indicate the number of employees of the detention centers for children and adolescents. Specify the number and percentage of female and male staff, and the ratio of staff to the number of children and adolescents living there.
14. Are there socio-educational programs for the children and adolescents in detention? How many are served by these programs? With what regularity? Are there formal school programs?
15. How is access to health services in general guaranteed for the children and adolescents in detention centers? How are mental health services and therapy guaranteed? Are there specialized programs for those using drugs? Are there specialized programs for minors who have committed sexual offenses?
16. Indicate whether there is access to specialized treatment for girls in detention centers (for instance, services for pregnant girls, among others).
17. Indicate whether there is access to specialized treatment for children and adolescents with special skills who are living in detention centers.
18. What system does the government provide for visits for children and adolescents deprived of their freedom? Does the government facilitate access by parents and other family members based on their economic situation?
19. Indicate whether the government subcontracts some of the services provided in the detention centers (care, meals, health, or education, among others). Describe the type of services and how the quality of those services and the performance of the duties assigned to the persons participating in those services, are controlled.
20. Specify the disciplinary measures used in detention centers for children and adolescents, and the situations or conducts that trigger a disciplinary measure. Attach a copy of the regulations that stipulate the disciplinary measures applicable to children and adolescents in detention centers.
21. Are there special programs in detention centers to deal with the specific needs of indigenous children and adolescents?
22. Indicate whether there are mechanisms that guarantee regular, independent supervision of places where children and adolescents are in custody, such as prisons or homes. If these mechanisms exist, explain:
a. what does regular and independent supervision consist of?
b. which detention facilities have received this type of inspection in the past twelve months?
23. Describe whether there is a system of mechanisms for children and adolescents in detention centers to file complaints or reports in the event of incidents that violate their human rights. If these mechanisms exist, indicate:
a. Whether complaints or reports can be filed anonymously;
b. In which facilities do these mechanisms operate?
c. How many complaints or reports were filed in 2007?
d. What has been the government’s response to complaints or reports presented?
e. Does the domestic legal system provide for mechanisms to punish those responsible for violating the human rights of children and adolescents?
V. SITUATION OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW
24. Indicate the number and percentage of the population under 18 years of age in your country. Please break down these data on the basis of the following criteria:
25. Give the number of children and adolescents in detention during a 12-month period. Present the information on individual arrests of children in the form of a table or list with a line for each child, specifying the child’s identification number, gender, ethnic group, date of birth, type of crime, and date of arrest.
26. Provide the current total number of children and adolescents in detention. Specify the numbers in each detention facility.
27. Give the current total number of children and adolescents in pretrial detention, including both children who have not been tried and those who have been tried but who are in detention while awaiting judgment).
28. For the children and adolescents who were sentenced during a 12 month period, indicate the time that they were in custody prior to being sentenced:
29. For the children and adolescents who were released from custody during a 12 month period, indicate the amount of time they were detained:
30. Indicate the number of children and adolescents who died in custody during a 12-month period. Specify the causes and circumstances in which each death occurred.
31. Report on the number of children and adolescents in custody who were injured by third parties during a 12-month period. Specify the causes and circumstances in which the injury occurred.
32. Indicate the current total number of children and adolescents in detention, broken down into groups on the basis of the following circumstances:
1) No formal separation of adults and children. The children are in the same rooms or cells as the adults.
2) The children and adolescents are located in separate rooms or cells from the adults, but they share with adults some common areas, such as exercise areas, bathrooms, or dining halls.
3) The children and adolescents are placed in separate wards from adults and have separate facilities.
4) The institution is only for children and adolescents.
33. Indicate whether the institutions housing children and adolescents in custody are separated by sex. Give the total number of children and adolescents who are not in separate institutions, specifying:
- Girls who are placed in rooms or cells separate from boys, but who share some common areas, such as recreation or dining areas.
- Girls who are placed in separate wards from the boys and have completely separate facilities.
34. Indicate the total number of children and adolescents in custody who have been visited by or have visited their parents, teachers, or family members in the last 3 months.
35. Indicate the number of children and adolescents convicted of criminal offenses during a 12 month period, specifying the total number of children sentenced to a detention facility.
36. Specify the number of children and adolescents who have been processed through a program of “alternative release prior to formal sentencing” in the course of 2007.
37. Taking the total number of children and adolescents who have served a sentence in custody, specify the number and percentage of children and adolescents who have benefited from post-detention follow-up programs.
38. Indicate the number of cases involving children and adolescents in conflict with the law in which the State brought charges, in comparison with charges brought by individuals.
39. Describe the detention conditions for children and adolescents in conflict with the law who are in mental health facilities.
VI. ADVANCES IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
40. Describe the best and most innovative policies and practices adopted by the State to ensure protection of the human rights of children in conflict with the law. The response may include examples of advertising campaigns or pilot programs, among others.