Since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, there have been notable changes related to the promotion of the rights of children and young people in policies and in practice in Africa. The principles enshrined in the Convention and the African Charter are at the heart of attempts to introduce changes in the majority of countries on the continent. In fact, many African states have made progress in the field of juvenile justice as new laws, reforms and good practices have been enacted to be in line with these two human rights documents.
Despite the improvements made since the adoption of the CRC, African children and young people are still facing many challenges depending on the state of development of their country. Indeed, African youth may be exposed to poverty, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, orphanhood, barriers to access to education, illiteracy, etc. Some are even caught up into armed conflicts, while others are facing the risk of radicalisation. With regards to the response in the field of juvenile justice, it also varies; in some states juvenile justice is lacking, children and young people are thus under the same justice system as adults, while in others a justice system catering the needs of children and young people is being developed.
With the aim of encouraging development and the promotion of the rights of children and young people, the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) has established the African Council for Juvenile Justice (ACJJ) as a think tank for debate, analysis and collaboration.
The ACJJ brings together professionals with experience in legislation, application, supervision, research and/or intervention in juvenile justice from the judiciary, public administrations, universities and academic centres, and non-governmental organisations. The objective is to propose coordinated action between the representatives of these four sections so as to compile reports, make proposals and develop research projects.