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Last Updated: Monday, 6 November 2006, 09:54 GMT
Call That Justice
First broadcast October 2006

Phillip Trujillo, one of the Colorado teens serving a prison sentence

Every day, tens of thousands of children around the world wake up behind bars. Many of them will have committed no offence. BBC investigates children's rights in justice systems around the world.

Almost every country in the world has committed itself to respecting the human rights of children. But in reality, the signatures on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, are not worth the paper they are written on.

There is overwhelming evidence that countries in both the developed and developing world are guilty of child abuse on a massive scale. These are not isolated incidents, but rather an every day occurence.

For many of those children, being sent to jail spells the beginning of months and sometimes years of suffering. Often denied legal representation or contact with parents, they are forced to share cells with hardened adult criminals.

These are the children the world forgot. In many places, violence, sexual abuse and even torture of juveniles is commonplace.

This hard-hitting three-part series uncovers a global scandal about the neglect and abuse of children's rights within the justice system, around the world.

Part Two: United States

In the US, notions of the 'super-predator' and 'teenage time-bomb' have persuaded 40 states to adopt legislation which moves more children into the adult criminal system.

This new legislation encourages ever harsher punishment regimes.

Punishment, rather than rehabilitation is becoming the norm, and increasingly, juveniles are being sentenced to life without parole.


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