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The right to diversion. Using the Convention on the Rights of the Child to Turn Juvenile Justice Rights Into Reality

Bruce Abramson
IJJO. First International Conference on Juvenile Justice. Salamanca 2004.


Communication submitted in the First International Conference of Juvenile Justice "Juvenile Justice and the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency in a Globalized World". Salamanca 2004.

International law requires States to have a system for diverting young people from imprisonment, as well as for diverting them from the juvenile and criminal courts themselves. To put it another way, minors accused of penal offenses have a right, under international law, to a properly functioning diversion system. The concern of this paper is how we reformers -- in particular, we who are either juvenile justice professionals or else 'children’s rights' activists -- can make better use of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to turn the law on the books into realties in the lives of the kids who are in trouble with the law.

If we are to make full use of the CRC in promoting penal reform, we will have to overcome three stumbling blocks. The first is the confusion stemming from the specialized vocabulary that is used by juvenile justice professionals. The second is the even greater confusion that surrounds both the juvenile justice system and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. What exactly is 'diversion'? and 'the juvenile justice system'? and the Convention on the Rights of the Child? And why are these things important to us?

If we are to be effective juvenile justice reformers, I suggest that we must clear up the misunderstandings in language, and we must have a common vision, or at least be able to understand each other’s visions, of the What? and the Why? of diversion, the juvenile justice system, and the Convention on the Right of the Child. If we don’t do this, then we will not be able to communicate successfully with governmental officials or with the public. Or even between ourselves: at present, juvenile justice is a marginalized subject within the 'children’s rights movement,' and most juvenile justice professionals are neither familiar with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, nor on board the 'CRC bandwagon.'



Year Language

2004 English

Category Type

Grey Literature Communication


Child, Delinquency, Justice, Juvenile, Law


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