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Children in Trouble with the Law

Johansson, Karolin
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. 17: 308-337.

This article compares Child Justice in Sweden and South Africa. Criminal law is dealt with within the scope and setting of formal proceedings and sanctions. Emphasis is on those children who can be subjected to formal criminal proceedings as well as the nature and severity of the punishments that may be inflicted on them. Regarding the legal age limit and the related decision of which young offenders to prosecute, it is suggested that South African law has the objective of protecting the individual child, whereas Swedish legislation has attempted to protect all young offenders by setting more general rules. Nevertheless, it is also suggested that the underlying principles pertaining to Child Justice within these legal systems are in many aspects the same, although the ways in which and to what extent they have been achieved vary notably. It is held that the South African criminal legal system is more advanced than the Swedish system regarding the integration of Restorative Justice measures in formal criminal proceedings. Meanwhile, the rehabilitative aims of the Child Justice system under formation in South Africa seem to advocate a direction similar to that from which Sweden has departed. These aims, expressed in South African legislation, thus appear to be intimately connected with the ideas of Restorative Justice. Author’s abstract.


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