United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the
Administration of Juvenile Justice ("The Beijing Rules"),
G.A. res. 40/33, annex, 40 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 53) at 207, U.N.
Doc. A/40/53 (1985).
1. Fundamental perspectives
1.1 Member States shall seek, in conformity with
their respective general interests, to further the well-being of
the juvenile and her or his family.
1.2 Member States shall endeavour to develop
conditions that will ensure for the juvenile a meaningful life in
the community, which, during that period in life when she or he is
most susceptible to deviant behaviour, will foster a process of
personal development and education that is as free from crime and
delinquency as possible.
1.3 Sufficient attention shall be given to
positive measures that involve the full mobilization of all
possible resources, including the family, volunteers and other
community groups, as well as schools and other community
institutions, for the purpose of promoting the well-being of the
juvenile, with a view to reducing the need for intervention under
the law, and of effectively, fairly and humanely dealing with the
juvenile in conflict with the law.
1.4 Juvenile justice shall be conceived as an
integral part of the national development process of each country,
within a comprehensive framework of social justice for all
juveniles, thus, at the same time, contributing to the protection
of the young and the maintenance of a peaceful order in society.
1.5 These Rules shall be implemented in the
context of economic, social and cultural conditions prevailing in
each Member State.
1.6 Juvenile justice services shall be
systematically developed and coordinated with a view to improving
and sustaining the competence of personnel involved in the
services, including their methods, approaches and attitudes.
These broad fundamental perspectives refer to
comprehensive social policy in general and aim at promoting
juvenile welfare to the greatest possible extent, which will
minimize the necessity of intervention by the juvenile justice
system, and in turn, will reduce the harm that may be caused by
any intervention. Such care measures for the young, before the
onset of delinquency, are basic policy requisites designed to
obviate the need for the application of the Rules.
Rules 1.1 to 1.3 point to the important role
that a constructive social policy for juveniles will play, inter
alia, in the prevention of juvenile crime and delinquency. Rule
1.4 defines juvenile justice as an integral part of social justice
for juveniles, while rule 1.6 refers to the necessity of
constantly improving juvenile justice, without falling behind the
development of progressive social policy for juveniles in general
and bearing in mind the need for consistent improvement of staff
Rule 1.5 seeks to take account of existing
conditions in Member States which would cause the manner of
implementation of particular rules necessarily to be different
from the manner adopted in other States.
2. Scope of the Rules and definitions used
2.1 The following Standard Minimum Rules shall
be applied to juvenile offenders impartially, without distinction
of any kind, for example as to race, colour, sex, language,
religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status.
2.2 For purposes of these Rules, the following
definitions shall be applied by Member States in a manner which is
compatible with their respective legal systems and concepts:
(a) A juvenile is a child or young person who,
under the respective legal systems, may be dealt with for an
offence in a manner which is different from an adult;
(b) An offence is any behaviour (act or
omission) that is punishable by law under the respective legal
(c) A juvenile offender is a child or young
person who is alleged to have committed or who has been found to
have committed an offence.
2.3 Efforts shall be made to establish, in each
national jurisdiction, a set of laws, rules and provisions
specifically applicable to juvenile offenders and institutions and
bodies entrusted with the functions of the administration of
juvenile justice and designed:
(a) To meet the varying needs of juvenile
offenders, while protecting their basic rights;
(b) To meet the needs of society;
(c) To implement the following rules thoroughly and fairly.
The Standard Minimum Rules are deliberately
formulated so as to be applicable within different legal systems
and, at the same time, to set some minimum standards for the
handling of juvenile offenders under any definition of a juvenile
and under any system of dealing with juvenile offenders. The Rules
are always to be applied impartially and without distinction of
Rule 2.1 therefore stresses the importance of
the Rules always being applied impartially and without distinction
of any kind. The rule follows the formulation of principle 2 of
the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
Rule 2.2 defines "juvenile" and "offence"
as the components of the notion of the "juvenile offender",
who is the main subject of these Standard Minimum Rules (see,
however, also rules 3 and 4). It should be noted that age limits
will depend on, and are explicitly made dependent on, each
respective legal system, thus fully respecting the economic,
social, political, cultural and legal systems of Member States.
This makes for a wide variety of ages coming under the definition
of "juvenile", ranging from 7 years to 18 years or
above. Such a variety seems inevitable in view of the different
national legal systems and does not diminish the impact of these
Standard Minimum Rules.
Rule 2.3 is addressed to the necessity of
specific national legislation for the optimal implementation of
these Standard Minimum Rules, both legally and practically.
3. Extension of the Rules
3.1 The relevant provisions of the Rules shall
be applied not only to juvenile offenders but also to juveniles
who may be proceeded against for any specific behaviour that would
not be punishable if committed by an adult.
3.2 Efforts shall be made to extend the
principles embodied in the Rules to all juveniles who are dealt
with in welfare and care proceedings.
3.3 Efforts shall also be made to extend the
principles embodied in the Rules to young adult offenders.
Rule 3 extends the protection afforded by the
Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice
(a) The so-called "status offences"
prescribed in various national legal systems where the range of
behaviour considered to be an offence is wider for juveniles than
it is for adults (for example, truancy, school and family
disobedience, public drunkenness, etc.) (rule 3.1);
(b) Juvenile welfare and care proceedings (rule 3.2);
(c) Proceedings dealing with young adult
offenders, depending of course on each given age limit (rule 3.3).
The extension of the Rules to cover these three
areas seems to be justified. Rule 3.1 provides minimum guarantees
in those fields, and rule 3.2 is considered a desirable step in
the direction of more fair, equitable and humane justice for all
juveniles in conflict with the law.
4. Age of criminal responsibility
4.1 In those legal systems recognizing the
concept of the age of criminal responsibility for juveniles, the
beginning of that age shall not be fixed at too low an age level,
bearing in mind the facts of emotional, mental and intellectual
The minimum age of criminal responsibility
differs widely owing to history and culture. The modern approach
would be to consider whether a child can live up to the moral and
psychological components of criminal responsibility; that is,
whether a child, by virtue of her or his individual discernment
and understanding, can be held responsible for essentially
antisocial be ha vi our. If the age of criminal responsibility is
fixed too low or if there is no lower age limit at all, the notion
of responsibility would become meaningless. In general, there is a
close relationship between the notion of responsibility for
delinquent or criminal behaviour and other social rights and
responsibilities (such as marital status, civil majority, etc.).
Efforts should therefore be made to agree on a
reasonable lowest age limit that is applicable internationally.
5. Aims of juvenile justice
5. 1 The juvenile justice system shall emphasize
the well-being of the juvenile and shall ensure that any reaction
to juvenile offenders shall always be in proportion to the
circumstances of both the offenders and the offence.
Rule 5 refers to two of the most important
objectives of juvenile justice. The first objective is the
promotion of the well-being of the juvenile. This is the main
focus of those legal systems in which juvenile offenders are dealt
with by family courts or administrative authorities, but the
well-being of the juvenile should also be emphasized in legal
systems that follow the criminal court model, thus contributing to
the avoidance of merely punitive sanctions. (See also rule 14.)
The second objective is "the principle of
proportionality". This principle is well-known as an
instrument for curbing punitive sanctions, mostly expressed in
terms of just deserts in relation to the gravity of the offence.
The response to young offenders should be based on the
consideration not only of the gravity of the offence but also of
personal circumstances. The individual circumstances of the
offender (for example social status, family situation, the harm
caused by the offence or other factors affecting personal
circumstances) should influence the proportionality of the
reactions (for example by having regard to the offender's
endeavour to indemnify the victim or to her or his willingness to
turn to wholesome and useful life).
By the same token, reactions aiming to ensure
the welfare of the young offender may go beyond necessity and
therefore infringe upon the fundamental rights of the young
individual, as has been observed in some juvenile justice systems.
Here, too, the proportionality of the reaction to the
circumstances of both the offender and the offence, including the
victim, should be safeguarded.
In essence, rule S calls for no less and no more
than a fair reaction in any given cases of juvenile delinquency
and crime. The issues combined in the rule may help to stimulate
development in both regards: new and innovative types of reactions
are as desirable as precautions against any undue widening of the
net of formal social control over juveniles.
6. Scope of discretion
6.1 In view of the varying special needs of
juveniles as well as the variety of measures available,
appropriate scope for discretion shall be allowed at all stages of
proceedings and at the different levels of juvenile justice
administration, including investigation, prosecution, adjudication
and the follow-up of dispositions.
6.2 Efforts shall be made, however, to ensure
sufficient accountability at all stages and levels in the exercise
of any such discretion.
6.3 Those who exercise discretion shall be
specially qualified or trained to exercise it judiciously and in
accordance with their functions and mandates.
Rules 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3 combine several important
features of effective, fair and humane juvenile justice
administration: the need to permit the exercise of discretionary
power at all significant levels of processing so that those who
make determinations can take the actions deemed to be most
appropriate in each individual case; and the need to provide
checks and balances in order to curb any abuses of discretionary
power and to safeguard the rights of the young offender.
Accountability and professionalism are instruments best apt to
curb broad discretion. Thus, professional qualifications and
expert training are emphasized here as a valuable means of
ensuring the judicious exercise of discretion in matters of
juvenile offenders. (See also rules 1.6 and 2.2.) The formulation
of specific guidelines on the exercise of discretion and the
provision of systems of review, appeal and the like in order to
permit scrutiny of decisions and accountability are emphasized in
this context. Such mechanisms are not specified here, as they do
not easily lend themselves to incorporation into international
standard minimum rules, which cannot possibly cover all
differences in justice systems.
7. Rights of juveniles
7.1 Basic procedural safeguards such as the
presumption of innocence, the right to be notified of the charges,
the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, the right to the
presence of a parent or guardian, the right to confront and
cross-examine witnesses and the right to appeal to a higher
authority shall be guaranteed at all stages of proceedings.
Rule 7.1 emphasizes some important points that
represent essential elements for a fair and just trial and that
are internationally recognized in existing human rights
instruments. (See also rule 14.) The presumption of innocence, for
instance, is also to be found in article 11 of the Universal
Declaration of Human rights and in article 14, paragraph 2, of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Rules 14
seq. of these Standard Minimum Rules specify issues that are
important for proceedings in juvenile cases, in particular, while
rule 7.1 affirms the most basic procedural safeguards in a general
8. Protection of privacy
8.1 The juvenile's right to privacy shall be
respected at all stages in order to avoid harm being caused to her
or him by undue publicity or by the process of labelling.
8.2 In principle, no information that may lead
to the identification of a juvenile offender shall be published.
Rule 8 stresses the importance of the protection
of the juvenile's right to privacy. Young persons are particularly
susceptible to stigmatization. Criminological research into
labelling processes has provided evidence of the detrimental
effects (of different kinds) resulting from the permanent
identification of young persons as "delinquent" or "criminal".
Rule 8 stresses the importance of protecting the
juvenile from the adverse effects that may result from the
publication in the mass media of information about the case (for
example the names of young offenders, alleged or convicted). The
interest of the individual should be protected and upheld, at
least in principle. (The general contents of rule 8 are further
specified in rule 2 1.)
9. Saving clause
9.1 Nothing in these Rules shall be interpreted
as precluding the application of the Standard Minimum Rules for
the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the United Nations and other
human rights instruments and standards recognized by the
international community that relate to the care and protection of
Rule 9 is meant to avoid any misunderstanding in
interpreting and implementing the present Rules in conformity with
principles contained in relevant existing or emerging
international human rights instruments and standards-such as the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Declaration of the
Rights of the Child and the draft convention on the rights of the
child. It should be understood that the application of the present
Rules is without prejudice to any such international instruments
which may contain provisions of wider application. (See also rule
INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION
10. Initial contact
10.1 Upon the apprehension of a juvenile, her or
his parents or guardian shall be immediately notified of such
apprehension, and, where such immediate notification is not
possible, the parents or guardian shall be notified within the
shortest possible time thereafter.
10.2 A judge or other competent official or body
shall, without delay, consider the issue of release.
10.3 Contacts between the law enforcement
agencies and a juvenile offender shall be managed in such a way as
to respect the legal status of the juvenile, promote the
well-being of the juvenile and avoid harm to her or hi m, with due
regard to the circumstances of the case.
Rule 10.1 is in principle contained in rule 92
of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
The question of release (rule 10.2) shall be
considered without delay by a judge or other competent official.
The latter refers to any person or institution in the broadest
sense of the term, including community boards or police
authorities having power to release an arrested person. (See also
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article
9, paragraph 3.)
Rule 10.3 deals with some fundamental aspects of
the procedures and behaviour on the part of the police and other
law enforcement officials in cases of juvenile crime. To "avoid
harm" admittedly is flexible wording and covers many features
of possible interaction (for example the use of harsh language,
physical violence or exposure to the environment). Involvement in
juvenile justice processes in itself can be "harmful" to
juveniles; the term "avoid harm" should be broadly
interpreted, therefore, as doing the least harm possible to the
juvenile in the first instance, as well as any additional or undue
harm. This is especially important in the initial contact with law
enforcement agencies, which might profoundly influence the
juvenile's attitude towards the State and society. Moreover, the
success of any further intervention is largely dependent on such
initial contacts. Compassion and kind firmness are important in
11.1 Consideration shall be given, wherever
appropriate, to dealing with juvenile offenders without resorting
to formal trial by the competent authority, referred to in rule
11.2 The police, the prosecution or other
agencies dealing with juvenile cases shall be empowered to dispose
of such cases, at their discretion, without recourse to formal
hearings, in accordance with the criteria laid down for that
purpose in the respective legal system and also in accordance with
the principles contained in these Rules.
11.3 Any diversion involving referral to
appropriate community or other services shall require the consent
of the juvenile, or her or his parents or guardian, provided that
such decision to refer a case shall be subject to review by a
competent authority, upon application.
11.4 In order to facilitate the discretionary
disposition of juvenile cases, efforts shall be made to provide
for community programmes, such as temporary supervision and
guidance, restitution, and compensation of victims.
Diversion, involving removal from criminal
justice processing and, frequently, redirection to community
support services, is commonly practised on a formal and informal
basis in many legal systems. This practice serves to hinder the
negative effects of subsequent proceedings in juvenile justice
administration (for example the stigma of conviction and
sentence). In many cases, non-intervention would be the best
response. Thus, diversion at the outset and without referral to
alternative (social) services may be the optimal response. This is
especially the case where the offence is of a non-serious nature
and where the family, the school or other informal social control
institutions have already reacted, or are likely to react, in an
appropriate and constructive manner.
As stated in rule 11.2, diversion may be used at
any point of decision-making-by the police, the prosecution or
other agencies such as the courts, tribunals, boards or councils.
It may be exercised by one authority or several or all
authorities, according to the rules and policies of the respective
systems and in line with the present Rules. It need not
necessarily be limited to petty cases, thus rendering diversion an
Rule 11.3 stresses the important requirement of
securing the consent of the young offender (or the parent or
guardian) to the recommended diversionary measure(s). (Diversion
to community service without such consent would contradict the
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention.) However, this consent
should not be left unchallengeable, since it might sometimes be
given out of sheer desperation on the part of the juvenile. The
rule underlines that care should be taken to minimize the
potential for coercion and intimidation at all levels in the
diversion process. Juveniles should not feel pressured (for
example in order to avoid court appearance) or be pressured into
consenting to diversion programmes. Thus, it is advocated that
provision should be made for an objective appraisal of the
appropriateness of dispositions involving young offenders by a "competent
authority upon application". (The "competent authority,'
may be different from that referred to in rule 14.)
Rule 11.4 recommends the provision of viable
alternatives to juvenile justice processing in the form of
community-based diversion. Programmes that involve settlement by
victim restitution and those that seek to avoid future conflict
with the law through temporary supervision and guidance are
especially commended. The merits of individual cases would make
diversion appropriate, even when more serious offences have been
committed (for example first offence, the act having been
committed under peer pressure, etc.).
12. Specialization within the police
12.1 In order to best fulfil their functions,
police officers who frequently or exclusively deal with juveniles
or who are primarily engaged in the prevention of juvenile crime
shall be specially instructed and trained. In large cities,
special police units should be established for that purpose.
Rule 12 draws attention to the need for
specialized training for all law enforcement officials who are
involved in the administration of juvenile justice. As police are
the first point of contact with the juvenile justice system, it is
most important that they act in an informed and appropriate
While the relationship between urbanization and
crime is clearly complex, an increase in juvenile crime has been
associated with the growth of large cities, particularly with
rapid and unplanned growth. Specialized police units would
therefore be indispensable, not only in the interest of
implementing specific principles contained in the present
instrument (such as rule 1.6) but more generally for improving the
prevention and control of juvenile crime and the handling of
13. Detention pending trial
13.1 Detention pending trial shall be used only
as a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible period
13.2 Whenever possible, detention pending trial
shall be replaced by alternative measures, such as close
supervision, intensive care or placement with a family or in an
educational setting or home.
13.3 Juveniles under detention pending trial
shall be entitled to all rights and guarantees of the Standard
Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the United
13.4 Juveniles under detention pending trial
shall be kept separate from adults and shall be detained in a
separate institution or in a separate part of an institution also
13.5 While in custody, juveniles shall receive
care, protection and all necessary individual assistance-social,
educational, vocational, psychological, medical and physical-that
they may require in view of their age, sex and personality.
The danger to juveniles of"criminal
contamination" while in detention pending trial must not be
underestimated. It is therefore important to stress the need for
alternative measures. By doing so, rule 13.1 encourages the
devising of new and innovative measures to avoid such detention in
the interest of the well-being of the juvenile. Juveniles under
detention pending trial are entitled to all the rights and
guarantees of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of
Prisoners as well as the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, especially article 9 and article 10, paragraphs
2 (b) and 3.
Rule 13.4 does not prevent States from taking
other measures against the negative influences of adult offenders
which are at least as effective as the measures mentioned in the
Different forms of assistance that may become
necessary have been enumerated to draw attention to the broad
range of particular needs of young detainees to be addressed (for
example females or males, drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill
juveniles, young persons suffering from the trauma, for example,
of arrest, etc.).
Varying physical and psychological
characteristics of young detainees may warrant classification
measures by which some are kept separate while in detention
pending trial, thus contributing to the avoidance of victimization
and rendering more appropriate assistance.
The Sixth United Nations Congress on the
Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, in its
resolution 4 on juvenile justice standards, specified that the
Rules, inter alia, should reflect the basic principle that
pre-trial detention should be used only as a last resort, that no
minors should be held in a facility where they are vulnerable to
the negative influences of adult detainees and that account should
always be taken of the needs particular to their stage of
ADJUDICATION AND DISPOSITION
14. Competent authority to adjudicate
14.1 Where the case of a juvenile offender has
not been diverted (under rule 11), she or he shall be dealt with
by the competent authority (court, tribunal, board, council, etc.)
according to the principles of a fair and just trial.
14.2 The proceedings shall be conducive to the
best interests of the juvenile and shall be conducted in an
atmosphere of understanding, which shall allow the juvenile to
participate therein and to express herself or himself freely.
It is difficult to formulate a definition of the
competent body or person that would universally describe an
adjudicating authority. "Competent authority" is meant
to include those who preside over courts or tribunals (composed of
a single judge or of several members), including professional and
lay magistrates as well as administrative boards (for example the
Scottish and Scandinavian systems) or other more informal
community and conflict resolution agencies of an adjudicatory
The procedure for dealing with juvenile
offenders shall in any case follow the minimum standards that are
applied almost universally for any criminal defendant under the
procedure known as "due process of law". In accordance
with due process, a "fair and just trial" includes such
basic safeguards as the presumption of innocence, the presentation
and examination of witnesses, the common legal defences, the right
to remain silent, the right to have the last word in a hearing,
the right to appeal, etc. (See also rule 7.1.)
15. Legal counsel, parents and guardians
15.1 Throughout the proceedings the juvenile
shall have the right to be represented by a legal adviser or to
apply for free legal aid where there is provision for such aid in
15.2 The parents or the guardian shall be
entitled to participate in the proceedings and may be required by
the competent authority to attend them in the interest of the
juvenile. They may, however, be denied participation by the
competent authority if there are reasons to assume that such
exclusion is necessary in the interest of the juvenile.
Rule 15.1 uses terminology similar to that found
in rule 93 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of
Prisoners. Whereas legal counsel and free legal aid are needed to
assure the juvenile legal assistance, the right of the parents or
guardian to participate as stated in rule 15.2 should be viewed as
general psychological and emotional assistance to the juvenile-a
function extending throughout the procedure.
The competent authority's search for an adequate
disposition of the case may pro fit, in particular, fro m the
co-operation of the legal representatives of the juvenile (or, for
that matter, some other personal assistant who the juvenile can
and does really trust). Such concern can be thwarted if the
presence of parents or guardians at the hearings plays a negative
role, for instance, if they display a hostile attitude towards the
juvenile, hence, the possibility of their exclusion must be
16. Social inquiry reports
16.1 In all cases except those involving minor
offences, before the competent authority renders a final
disposition prior to sentencing, the background and circumstances
in which the juvenile is living or the conditions under which the
offence has been committed shall be properly investigated so as to
facilitate judicious adjudication of the case by the competent
Social inquiry reports (social reports or
pre-sentence reports) are an indispensable aid in most legal
proceedings involving juveniles. The competent authority should be
informed of relevant facts about the juvenile, such as social an d
family background, school career, educational experiences, etc.
For this purpose, some jurisdictions use special social services
or personnel attached to the court or board. Other personnel,
including probation officers, may serve the same function. The
rule therefore requires that adequate social services should be
available to deliver social inquiry reports of a qualified nature.
17. Guiding principles in adjudication and disposition
17.1 The disposition of the competent authority
shall be guided by the following principles:
(a) The reaction taken shall always be in
proportion not only to the circumstances and the gravity of the
offence but also to the circumstances and the needs of the
juvenile as well as to the needs of the society;
(b) Restrictions on the personal liberty of the
juvenile shall be imposed only after careful consideration and
shall be limited to the possible minimum;
(c) Deprivation of personal liberty shall not be
imposed unless the juvenile is adjudicated of a serious act
involving violence against another person or of persistence in
committing other serious offences and unless there is no other
(d) The well-being of the juvenile shall be the
guiding factor in the consideration of her or his case. 17.2
Capital punishment shall not be imposed for any crime committed by
17.3 Juveniles shall not be subject to corporal punishment.
17.4 The competent authority shall have the power to discontinue
the proceedings at any time.
The main difficulty in formulating guidelines
for the adjudication of young persons stems from the fact that
there are unresolved conflicts of a philosophical nature, such as
(a) Rehabilitation versus just desert;
(b) Assistance versus repression and punishment;
(c) Reaction according to the singular merits of
an individual case versus reaction according to the protection of
society in general;
(d) General deterrence versus individual incapacitation.
The conflict between these approaches is more
pronounced in juvenile cases than in adult cases. With the variety
of causes and reactions characterizing juvenile cases, these
alternatives become intricately interwoven.
It is not the function of the Standard Minimum
Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice to prescribe
which approach is to be followed but rather to identify one that
is most closely in consonance with internationally accepted
principles. Therefore the essential elements as laid down in rule
17.1 , in particular in subparagraphs (a) and (c), are mainly to
be understood as practical guidelines that should ensure a common
starting point; if heeded by the concerned authorities (see also
rule 5), they could contribute considerably to ensuring that the
fundamental rights of juvenile offenders are protected, especially
the fundamental rights of personal development and education.
Rule 17.1 (b) implies that strictly punitive
approaches are not appropriate. Whereas in adult cases, and
possibly also in cases of severe offences by juveniles, just
desert and retributive sanctions might be considered to have some
merit, in juvenile cases such considerations should always be
outweighed by the interest of safeguarding the well-being and the
future of the young person.
In line with resolution 8 of the Sixth United
Nations Congress, rule 17.1 (b) encourages the use of alternatives
to institutionalization to the maximum extent possible, bearing in
mind the need to respond to the specific requirements of the
young. Thus, full use should be made of the range of existing
alternative sanctions and new alternative sanctions should be
developed, bearing the public safety in mind. Probation should be
granted to the greatest possible extent via suspended sentences,
conditional sentences, board orders and other dispositions.
Rule 17.1 (c) corresponds to one of the guiding
principles in resolution 4 of the Sixth Congress which aims at
avoiding incarceration in the case of juveniles unless there is no
other appropriate response that will protect the public safety.
The provision prohibiting capital punishment in
rule 17.2 is in accordance with article 6, paragraph 5, of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The provision against corporal punishment is in
line with article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and the Declaration on the Protection of All
Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as the Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment and the draft convention on the rights of the child.
The power to discontinue the proceedings at any
time (rule 17.4) is a characteristic inherent in the handling of
juvenile offenders as opposed to adults. At any time,
circumstances may become known to the competent authority which
would make a complete cessation of the intervention appear to be
the best disposition of the case.
18. Various disposition measures
18.1 A large variety of disposition measures
shall be made available to the competent authority, allowing for
flexibility so as to avoid institutionalization to the greatest
extent possible. Such measures, some of which may be combined,
(a) Care, guidance and supervision orders;
(c) Community service orders;
(d) Financial penalties, compensation and restitution;
(e) Intermediate treatment and other treatment orders;
(f) Orders to participate in group counselling and similar
(g) Orders concerning foster care, living communities or other
(h) Other relevant orders.
18.2 No juvenile shall be removed from parental
supervision, whether partly or entire l y, unless the
circumstances of her or his case make this necessary.
Rule 18.1 attempts to enumerate some of the
important reactions and sanctions that have been practised and
proved successful thus far, in different legal systems. On the
whole they represent promising opinions that deserve replication
and further development. The rule does not enumerate staffing
requirements because of possible shortages of adequate staff in
some regions; in those regions measures requiring less staff may
be tried or developed.
The examples given in rule 18.1 have in common,
above all, a reliance on and an appeal to the community for the
effective implementation of alternative dispositions.
Community-based correction is a traditional measure that has taken
on many aspects. On that basis, relevant authorities should be
encouraged to offer community-based services.
Rule 18.2 points to the importance of the family
which, according to article 10, paragraph l, of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is "the
natural and fundamental group unit of society". Within the
family, the parents have not only the right but also the
responsibility to care for and supervise their children. Rule
18.2, therefore, requires that the separation of children from
their parents is a measure of last resort. It may be resorted to
only when the facts of the case clearly warrant this grave step
(for example child abuse).
19. Least possible use of institutionalization
19.1 The placement of a juvenile in an
institution shall always be a disposition of last resort and for
the minimum necessary period.
Progressive criminology advocates the use of
non-institutional over institutional treatment. Little or no
difference has been found in terms of the success of
institutionalization as compared to non-institutionalization. The
many adverse influences on an individual that seem unavoidable
within any institutional setting evidently cannot be outbalanced
by treatment efforts. This is especially the case for juveniles,
who are vulnerable to negative influences. Moreover, the negative
effects, not only of loss of liberty but also of separation from
the usual social environment, are certainly more acute for
juveniles than for adults because of their early stage of
Rule 19 aims at restricting institutionalization
in two regards: in quantity ("last resort,,) and in time ("minimum
necessary period"). Rule 19 reflects one of the basic guiding
principles of resolution 4 of the Sixth United Nations Congress: a
juvenile offender should not be incarcerated unless there is no
other appropriate response. The rule, therefore, makes the appeal
that if a juvenile must be institutionalized, the loss of liberty
should be restricted to the least possible degree, with special
institutional arrangements for confinement and bearing in mind the
differences in kinds of offenders, offences and institutions. In
fact, priority should be given to "open" over "closed"
institutions. Furthermore, any facility should be of a
correctional or educational rather than of a prison type.
20. Avoidance of unnecessary delay
20.1 Each case shall from the outset be handled
expeditiously, without any unnecessary delay.
The speedy conduct of formal procedures in
juvenile cases is a paramount concern. Otherwise whatever good may
be achieved by the procedure and the disposition is at risk. As
time passes, the juvenile will find it increasingly difficult, if
not impossible, to relate the procedure and disposition to the
offence, both intellectually and psychologically.
21.1 Records of juvenile offenders shall be kept
strictly confidential and closed to third parties. Access to such
records shall be limited to persons directly concerned with the
disposition of the case at hand or other duly authorized persons.
21.2 Records of juvenile offenders shall not be
used in adult proceedings in subsequent cases involving the same
The rule attempts to achieve a balance between
conflicting interests connected with records or files: those of
the police, prosecution and other authorities in improving control
versus the interests of the juvenile offender. (See also rule 8.)
"Other duly authorized persons" would generally include
among others, researchers.
22. Need for professionalism and training
22.1 Professional education, in-service
training, refresher courses and other appropriate modes of
instruction shall be utilized to establish and maintain the
necessary professional competence of all personnel dealing with
22.2 Juvenile justice personnel shall reflect
the diversity of juveniles who come into contact with the juvenile
justice system. Efforts shall be made to ensure the fair
representation of women and minorities in juvenile justice
The authorities competent for disposition may be
persons with very different backgrounds (magistrates in the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and in regions
influenced by the common law system; legally trained judges in
countries using Roman law and in regions influenced by them; and
elsewhere elected or appointed laymen or jurists, members of
community-based boards, etc.). For all these authorities, a
minimum training in law, sociology, psychology, criminology and
behavioural sciences would be required. This is considered as
important as the organizational specialization and independence of
the competent authority.
For social workers and probation officers, it
might not be feasible to require professional specialization as a
prerequisite for taking over any function dealing with juvenile
offenders. Thus, professional on-the job instruction would be
Professional qualifications are an essential
element in ensuring the impartial and effective administration of
juvenile justice. Accordingly, it is necessary to improve the
recruitment, advancement and professional training of personnel
and to provide them with the necessary means to enable them to
properly fulfil their functions.
All political, social, sexual, racial,
religious, cultural or any other kind of discrimination in the
selection, appointment and advancement of juvenile justice
personnel should be avoided in order to achieve impartiality in
the administration of juvenile justice. This was recommended by
the Sixth Congress. Furthermore, the Sixth Congress called on
Member States to ensure the fair and equal treatment of women as
criminal justice personnel and recommended that special measures
should be taken to recruit, train and facilitate the advancement
of female personnel in juvenile justice administration.
23. Effective implementation of disposition
23.1 Appropriate provisions shall be made for
the implementation of orders of the competent authority, as
referred to in rule 14.1 above, by that authority itself or by
some other authority as circumstances may require
23.2 Such provisions shall include the power to
modify the orders as the competent authority may deem necessary
from time to time, provided that such modification shall be
determined in accordance with the principles contained in these
Disposition in juvenile cases, more so than in
adult cases, tends to influence the offender's life for a long
period of time. Thus, it is important that the competent authority
or an independent body (parole board, probation office, youth
welfare institutions or others) with qualifications equal to those
of the competent authority that originally disposed of the case
should monitor the implementation of the disposition. In some
countries, a juge de l'execution des peines has been installed for
The composition, powers and functions of the
authority must be flexible; they are described in general terms in
rule 23 in order to ensure wide acceptability.
24. Provision of needed assistance
24.1 Efforts shall be made to provide juveniles,
at all stages of the proceedings, with necessary assistance such
as lodging, education or vocational training, employment or any
other assistance, helpful and practical, in order to facilitate
the rehabilitative process.
The promotion of the well-being of the juvenile
is of paramount consideration. Thus, rule 24 emphasizes the
importance of providing requisite facilities, services and other
necessary assistance as may further the best interests of the
juvenile throughout the rehabilitative process.
25. Mobilization of volunteers and other community services
25.1 Volunteers, voluntary organizations, local
institutions and other community resources shall be called upon to
contribute effectively to the rehabilitation of the juvenile in a
community setting and, as far as possible, within the family unit.
This rule reflects the need for a rehabilitative
orientation of all work with juvenile offenders. Co-operation with
the community is indispensable if the directives of the competent
authority are to be carried out effectively. Volunteers and
voluntary services, in particular, have proved to be valuable
resources but are at present underutilized. In some instances, the
co-operation of ex-offenders (including ex-addicts) can be of
Rule 25 emanates from the principles laid down
in rules 1.1 to 1.6 and follows the relevant provisions of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
26. Objectives of institutional treatment
26.1 The objective of training and treatment of
juveniles placed in institutions is to provide care, protection,
education and vocational skills, with a view to assisting them to
assume socially constructive and productive roles in society.
26.2 Juveniles in institutions shall receive
care, protection and all necessary assistance-social, educational,
vocational, psychological, medical and physical-that they may
require because of their age, sex, and personality and in the
interest of their wholesome development .
26.3 Juveniles in institutions shall be kept
separate from adults and shall be detained in a separate
institution or in a separate part of an institution also holding
26.4 Young female offenders placed in an
institution deserve special attention as to their personal needs
and problems. They shall by no means receive less care,
protection, assistance, treatment and training than young male
offenders. Their fair treatment shall be ensured.
26.5 In the interest and well-being of the
institutionalized juvenile, the parents or guardians shall have a
right of access.
26.6 Inter-ministerial and inter-departmental
co-operation shall be fostered for the purpose of providing
adequate academic or, as appropriate, vocational training to
institutionalized juveniles, with a view to ensuring that they do
no leave the institution at an educational disadvantage.
The objectives of institutional treatment as
stipulated in rules 26.1 and 26.2 would be acceptable to any
system and culture. However, they have not yet been attained
everywhere, and much more has to be done in this respect.
Medical and psychological assistance, in
particular, are extremely important for institutionalized drug
addicts, violent and mentally ill young persons.
The avoidance of negative influences through
adult offenders and the safeguarding of the well-being of
juveniles in an institutional setting, as stipulated in rule 26.3,
are in line with one of the basic guiding principles of the Rules,
as set out by the Sixth Congress in its resolution 4. The rule
does not prevent States from taking other measures against the
negative influences of adult offenders, which are at least as
effective as the measures mentioned in the rule. (See also rule
Rule 26.4 addresses the fact that female
offenders normally receive less attention than their male
counterparts. as pointed out by the Sixth Congress. In particular,
resolution 9 of the Sixth Congress calls for the fair treatment of
female offenders at every stage of criminal justice processes and
for special attention to their particular problems and needs while
in custody. Moreover, this rule should also be considered in the
light of the Caracas Declaration of the Sixth Congress, which,
inter alia, calls for equal treatment in criminal justice
administration, and against the background of the Declaration on
the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The right of access (rule 26.5) follows from the
provisions of rules 7.1, 10.1, 15.2 and 18.2. Inter-ministerial
and inter-departmental co-operation (rule 26.6) are of particular
importance in the interest of generally enhancing the quality of
institutional treatment and training.
27. Application of the Standard Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the United Nations
27.1 The Standard Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners and related recommendations shall be
applicable as far as relevant to the treatment of juvenile
offenders in institutions, including those in detention pending
27.2 Efforts shall be made to implement the
relevant principles laid down in the Standard Minimum Rules for
the Treatment of Prisoners to the largest possible extent so as to
meet the varying needs of juveniles specific to their age, sex and
The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of
Prisoners were among the first instruments of this kind to be
promulgated by the United Nations. It is generally agreed that
they have had a world-wide impact. Although there are still
countries where implementation is more an aspiration than a fact,
those Standard Minimum Rules continue to be an important influence
in the humane and equitable administration of correctional
Some essential protections covering juvenile
offenders in institutions are contained in the Standard Minimum
Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (accommodation, architecture,
bedding, clothing, complaints and requests, contact with the
outside world, food, medical care, religious service, separation
of ages, staffing, work, etc.) as are provisions concerning
punishment and discipline, and restraint for dangerous offenders.
It would not be appropriate to modify those Standard Minimum Rules
according to the particular characteristics of institutions for
juvenile offenders within the scope of the Standard Minimum Rules
for the Administration of Juvenile Justice.
Rule 27 focuses on the necessary requirements
for juveniles in institutions (rule 27.1) as well as on the
varying needs specific to their age, sex and personality (rule
27.2). Thus, the objectives and content of the rule interrelate to
the relevant provisions of the Standard Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners.
28. Frequent and early recourse to conditional release
28.1 Conditional release from an institution
shall be used by the appropriate authority to the greatest
possible extent, and shall be granted at the earliest possible
28.2 Juveniles released conditionally from an
institution shall be assisted and supervised by an appropriate
authority and shall receive full support by the community.
The power to order conditional release may rest
with the competent authority, as mentioned in rule 14.1 or with
some other authority. In view of this, it is adequate to refer
here to the "appropriate,' rather than to the "competent"
Circumstances permitting, conditional release
shall be preferred to serving a full sentence. Upon evidence of
satisfactory progress towards rehabilitation, even offenders who
had been deemed dangerous at the time of their
institutionalization can be conditionally released whenever
feasible. Like probation , such release may be conditional on the
satisfactory fulfilment of the requirements specified by the
relevant authorities for a period of time established in the
decision, for example relating to "good behaviour" of
the offender, attendance in community programmes, residence in
half-way houses, etc.
In the case of offenders conditionally released
from an institution, assistance and supervision by a probation or
other officer (particularly where probation has not yet been
adopted) should be provided and community support should be
29. Semi-institutional arrangements
29.1 Efforts shall be made to provide
semi-institutional arrangements, such as half-way houses,
educational homes, day-time training centres and other such
appropriate arrangements that may assist juveniles in their proper
reintegration into society.
The importance of care following a period of
institutionalization should not be underestimated. This rule
emphasizes the necessity of forming a net of semi-institutional
This rule also emphasizes the need for a diverse
range of facilities and services designed to meet the different
needs of young offenders re-entering the community and to provide
guidance and structural support as an important step towards
successful reintegration into society.
RESEARCH, PLANNING, POLICY FORMULATION AND EVALUATION
30. Research as a basis for planning, policy formulation and
30.1 Efforts shall be made to organize and
promote necessary research as a basis for effective planning and
30.2 Efforts shall be made to review and
appraise periodically the trends, problems and causes of juvenile
delinquency and crime as well as the varying particular needs of
juveniles in custody.
30.3 Efforts shall be made to establish a
regular evaluative research mechanism built into the system of
juvenile justice administration and to collect and analyse
relevant data and information for appropriate assessment and
future improvement and reform of the administration.
30.4 The delivery of services in juvenile
justice administration shall be systematically planned and
implemented as an integral part of national development efforts.
The utilization of research as a basis for an
informed juvenile justice policy is widely acknowledged as an
important mechanism for keeping practices abreast of advances in
knowledge and the continuing development and improvement of the
juvenile justice system. The mutual feedback between research and
policy is especially important in juvenile justice. With rapid and
often drastic changes in the life-styles of the young and in the
forms and dimensions of juvenile crime, the societal and justice
responses to juvenile crime and delinquency quickly become
outmoded and inadequate.
Rule 30 thus establishes standards for
integrating research into the process of policy formulation and
application in juvenile justice administration. The rule draws
particular attention to the need for regular review and evaluation
of existing programmes and measures and for planning within the
broader context of overall development objectives.
A constant appraisal of the needs of juveniles,
as well as the trends and problems of delinquency, is a
prerequisite for improving the methods of formulating appropriate
policies and establishing adequate interventions, at both formal
and informal levels. In this context, research by independent
persons and bodies should be facilitated by responsible agencies,
and it may be valuable to obtain and to take into account the
views of juveniles themselves, not only those who come into
contact with the system.
The process of planning must particularly
emphasize a more effective and equitable system for the delivery
of necessary services. Towards that end, there should be a
comprehensive and regular assessment of the wide-ranging,
particular needs and problems of juveniles and an identification
of clear-cut priori ties. In that connection, there should also be
a co-ordination in the use of existing resources, including
alternatives and community support that would be suitable in
setting up specific procedures designed to implement and monitor