in Europe

Procedural Rights of Juveniles Suspected or Accused in the European Union

National Research Report / France

Diana Villegas | Hors la Rue / Terre des hommes | 46 pages
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This report has been developed within the framework of “Procedural Rights of Juveniles Suspected or Accused in the EU (PRO-JUS)”, a regional project implemented in 5 EU Member States (Belgium, France, Hungary, Spain and The Netherlands) under the coordination of the Terre des hommes Regional Office for Central and South East Europe based in Hungary in partnership with Defence for Children International (Belgium), Hors La Rue (France), Rights International Spain and Defence for Children International (The Netherlands).

The PRO-JUS project aims to examine the situation of foreign children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings since their extra vulnerability may hamper their enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the three procedural directives of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU directives 2010/64, 2012/13, 2013/48).

This report covers France and constitutes one of the 5 national reports developed as part of the PRO-JUS project. The report is the result of a research that has combined desk research, analysis and semi-structured interviews with adult stakeholders and children. Developed according to a common research methodology that was employed in all of the 5 project countries, the report presents the research findings and identifies noteworthy practices as well as recommendations. In line with the aims of the research, the report also discusses the factors that affect and hamper the effective enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the 3 EU directives.

Findings and Recommendations

  • The rights covered by the three directives are limited or moderate in their effectiveness;
  • The rights enshrined in the directives studied over the course of the research already existed in the French regulatory corpus. The directives reinforced the application of these rights, which were general in scope, to ensure the actual exercise and harmonisation of these fundamental rights during criminal proceedings;
  • The research has demonstrated that these rights are formally assured, however their qualitative application is highly doubtful. The very existence of these rights can be called into question when their application is limited to conditions of formality, particularly when those affected are minors;
  • The superficial application of these rights within the juvenile justice system affects both foreign and national minors. However, the research did reveal that foreign minors, due to their lack of familiarity with the language and, often, lack of parental representation, are more vulnerable;
  • Without access to an interpreter, it is almost impossible to establish good communication with a non-francophone minor to inform them of their rights, guarantee access to a lawyer, make contact with a third party (parents, relatives, the consulate), and ultimately access to justice;


  • Develop accurate evaluation indicators to determine minors’ access to their rights and particularly the quality of this access;
  • Promote interdisciplinary working groups across sectors to ensure better rights coverage and a view of the system as a whole. This will also lead to a better understanding of the actions and initiatives of each sector;
  • Develop measures for legal-judicial processing adapted to the realities of the population of foreign minors;
  • Without endangering the independence of justice and the diversity of its organizations, it is essential to promote professional training;
  • Promote the implementation of protective measures for foreign minors;
  • Avoid suspending protection measures when an appeal procedure is launched;
  • Remain attentive with regards to the practices surrounding trial and the following procedural appeals;
  • Increase the specialised training of professionals on topics such as minority status, migration, intercultural dialogue and fundamental rights;
  • Promote alternatives to prosecution that allow proper educational work;
  • Implement criminal mediation and restorative justice systems.