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The Juvenile Justice Law Reform Process in South Africa: Can a Children’s Rights Approach Carry the Day?

Sloth-Nielsen, Julia
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) Quinnipiac Law Review. 18:469.

During the 1980s, under apartheid in South Africa, hundreds of children were detained without trial under the security legislation of the time. Eventually, following the end of apartheid, concern for such children gave impetus in the early 1990s to efforts to reform juvenile justice law. The aim was to draft legislation for the creation of a new and separate juvenile justice system. Efforts at juvenile justice reform evolved and even changed over the 1990s as experience with particular legislative reforms and their effects on young offenders and on society led to reconsideration of the nature and aims of such reform. In this paper, Julia Sloth-Nielsen sketches the background and history of juvenile justice reform in South Africa, the process of developing a new juvenile justice statute under the guidance of a special committee of the South African Law Commission, and the content of the Draft Bill proposed by that committee. This draft, according to Sloth-Nielsen, is rooted in a children’s rights framework.


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