How children’s rights and more specifically the right to complain functions in youth institutions remains fairly unexplored territory. Nevertheless, insight into the role of the right to complain in practice is of the utmost importance. Children and young people do have certain rights, following international treaties and also often national regulations, but whether and how those rights ultimately improve the participation and legal/power position of children remains underexposed. Therefore, in this contribution the authors argue for an ‘empirical children’s rights perspective’, in which children’s rights are not mere legal-theoretical touchstones, but tools that actors (both professionals and minors) mobilize (or not) in a given context. From such an empirical children’s rights perspective, understanding the practice and context in which children’s rights (should) be applied is very important. Indeed, an empirical children’s rights perspective starts from the premise that it is the context that determines how professionals and minors mobilize (or not) children’s rights. The Flemish complaint law in juvenile institutions is, from an empirical children’s rights perspective, a unique case, because it has only had a formal basis since 2017. Thanks to the empirical research that the authors have conducted (observations and interviews), this contribution offers, on the one hand and foremost, important insights into the functioning of the right to complain in a Flemish youth institution. On the other hand, this contribution also sheds light on the changes and problems the authors observe in the transition from an informal to a formal right to complain in Flemish youth institutions. Furthermore, the unexpected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the introduction of formal complaint law is also discussed in this contribution. In their conclusion, the authors emphasize the importance and implications of an ‘empirical children’s rights perspective’ both in terms of research and the idea and theory of children’s rights themselves.
|Translated title of the contribution||Never waste a good complaint: An empirical children's rights perspective on Flemish complaint law in juvenile institutions|
|Number of pages||23|
|Journal||Tijdschrift voor Criminologie|
|Publication status||Published - 9 Jun 2023|
- children’s rights, juvenile justice, complaints, juveniles, youth institutions