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A child’s right to be heard

Lumos voices

A child’s right to be heard

By Lumos Czech Republic Director Petra Kacirkova.

The basic principle in making judgements in the cases of child protection should always be what is in the best interests of a child. According to all international treaties and Czech Law, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.

So what does that mean in practice? What are the ways of asking children about their opinions while, at the same time, not violating their rights or making them experience a trauma? What does “respecting children’s rights“ mean in practice? Who should speak with a child during these legal processes and find out their opinion? That these are becoming common queries indicates that the rights of all children to be heard and involved in decisions that affect them is positive move in and of itself, however, practically speaking, this needs to have the appropriate processes in place in order to make this principle a reality.

A child´s best interests must be a primary consideration for every judge and making decision while respecting the child´s wants, needs and opinions must be a very hard and responsible task.

Therefore at Lumos, we are delighted to be collaborating with the Czech Judicial Academy who has invited UK Family Proceedings Court Judge Nick Crichton to present and meeting with the Czech Family Proceedings Court Judges in January. The above stated queries as well as the issues of getting the most out of the collaboration between the judges and social workers, will be discussed in Kromeriz next week.

Nick Crichton knows a thing or two about these kind of proceeedings and the difficult task the Czech Family Judges undertake. He was himself, a District Judge for 27 years and the Resident District Judge at the Inner London Family Proceedings Court from its opening in April 1997 until it closed early in 2014.

In an interview with the British newspaper ‚The Telegraph in Nick said "The moment at which we have to remove children because they are not safe at home - either through neglect or abuse - is probably the worst moment of that parent's life,"

Nick continues to sit as a Deputy District Judge and he is a passionate advocate for children’s rights and chaired the Voice of the Child sub-committee of the Family Justice Council. He has been instrumental in setting up the Family Drug and Alcohol Court – a pioneering project in the UK providing intensive support to families with serious drug and alcohol problems in the hope of enabling them to recover so that they can take care of their children. Nick is also a member of the Lumos Board of Trustees for Lumos.

To read more about Nick Crichton and his work with the Family Drug and Alcohol Court, click here.