n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - The rights of child victims and witnesses of crime : an international analysis

Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



As a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), recognising child's welfare as its main priority, children as a vulnerable group should be protected against the negative effects of the criminal justice system and the trauma associated with giving testimony as well as secondary victimisation. In South Africa, the constitutional Court concluded that the guiding principle in this regard, namely "the best interest of the child" principle, is for all intended purposes a matter of statutory interpretation. However, developments in the international arena, especially the United Nations Resolution 2005/20: Guidelines on matters involving child victims and witnesses of crime as well as the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child-friendly justice (2011) are clear indications that the area of justice for child victims and witnesses have not yet been adequately developed and that it has many shortcomings. These guidelines serve as good practice principles and are the product of consensus reflected in contemporary knowledge and relevant international and regional norms, standards and principles with the objective to assist in the review of national laws, procedures and practices of member states with a view to ensuring full respect for the rights of child victims and witnesses of crime and to furthering the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) by the parties to that Convention. These guidelines are, therefore, very important for the purpose of South African law, procedures and practices which are to be reviewed against the background of these guiding principles.

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