DCI – Beijing Rules 15

Defence for Children International

Beijing Rules


The Rules emphasise several fundamental principles: the principle of

proportionality, minimal use of deprivation of liberty and the well-being of the


Where a juvenile offender has not been diverted and has proceeded to a

formal trial, the proceedings should be conducive to the best interests of the

juvenile and conducted in an atmosphere which allows the juvenile to participate

and express himself/herself freely.

The juvenile should have the right to legal representation and to apply

for free legal aid where such a system exists. The parents or the guardian

should be entitled to participate in the proceedings. The competent authority

should be empowered to either compel them to appear or to exclude them from the

proceedings where this is necessary in the interests of the juvenile.

Prior to sentencing the background and circumstances in which the

juvenile is living, or the conditions under which the offence has been

committed, should be the subject of a social inquiry report in order to

facilitate the adjudication of the case. Both capital and corporal punishment

are specifically prohibited for any crime reiterating binding treaty standards.

In a case decided before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

in 1967, it was proposed by the commission that a norm of international

customary law establishing 18 to be the minimum age limit for the imposition of

the death penalty was emerging. The implications of this decision, albeit

non-binding, indicate that a State which pursues a policy of judicial execution

of children may now be in breach of international law even where it has not

ratified the relevant treaties.


Disposition Measures