CRC/C/GC/12 page 10
by the child (or by the appropriate authority as necessary) according to her or his particular situation. Representatives must have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the various aspects of the decision-making process and experience in working with children.
The representative must be aware that she or he represents exclusively the
interests of the child and not the interests of other persons (parent(s)), institutions or bodies (e.g. residential home, administration or society). Codes of conduct should be
developed for representatives who are appointed to represent the child’s views.
“In a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law”
The opportunity for representation must be “in a manner consistent with the
procedural rules of national law”. This clause should not be interpreted as permitting the use of procedural legislation which restricts or prevents enjoyment of this fundamental right. On the contrary, States parties are encouraged to comply with the basic rules of fair proceedings, such as the right to a defence and the right to access one’s own files.
When rules of procedure are not adhered to, the decision of the court or the
administrative authority can be challenged and may be overturned, substituted, or referred back for further juridical consideration.
Steps for the implementation of the child’s right to be heard
Implementation of the two paragraphs of article 12 requires five steps to be
taken in order to effectively realize the right of the child to be heard whenever a matter affects a child or when the child is invited to give her or his views in a formal proceeding as well as in other settings. These requirements have to be applied in a way which is appropriate for the given context.
Those responsible for hearing the child have to ensure that the child is
informed about her or his right to express her or his opinion in all matters affecting the child and, in particular, in any judicial and administrative decision-making processes, and about the impact that his or her expressed views will have on the outcome. The child must, furthermore, receive information about the option of either communicating directly or through a representative. She or he must be aware of the possible consequences of this choice. The decision maker must adequately prepare the child before the hearing, providing explanations as to how, when and where the hearing will take place and who the participants will be, and has to take account of the views of the child in this regard.
The context in which a child exercises her or his right to be heard has to be
enabling and encouraging, so that the child can be sure that the adult who is responsible for the hearing is willing to listen and seriously consider what the child has decided to communicate. The person who will hear the views of the child can be an adult involved in the matters affecting the child (e.g. a teacher, social worker or caregiver), a decision maker in an institution (e.g. a director, administrator or judge), or a specialist (e.g. a