Last edited: November 2005
Summary and Analysis
The Czech Republic has signed and ratified both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on the Exercise of Child's Rights. As required by Article 1, paragraph 4 of the ECECR, the Czech Republic declared that it would apply the convention to adoption proceedings, foster placement proceedings, and proceedings relating to the limitation or deprivation of parental responsibility, as well as other family proceedings that involve children.
We were unable to find the actual text of any statutes or laws relating to the representation of children in legal proceedings. However, under the laws of the Czech Republic, the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child are superior to national laws. The Convention on the Rights of the Child represents an important part of the Constitution of the Czech Republic.
We have identified an amendment to the Family Act that directly relates to a child's right to be heard in all legal proceedings, though we could not find the text for this amendment at the current time. The amendment also provides the child with the right to access all information related to the proceeding. Specifically, one provision of Article 178 of the Code of Civil Procedure states that there is an opportunity for the court to hear the child's views as expressed by himself or herself, but only if the court decides it so. Another provision, in Article 8 of the Social-Legal Protection of Child Act, explicitly enables a child to state his or her opinion whenever he or she sees fit, at any point in which legal matters relating to him or her are discussed. However, it is up to the court to determine how these views are to be weighed, given the age and maturity of the child.
The rights of the child provided for in the Convention have been incorporated in various acts in the country: 94/1963 Coll., the Family Act; 40/1964 Coll., the Civil Code; 41/1964 Coll., the Civil Judicial Order; 140/1961 Coll., the Penal Code; 141/1961 Coll., the Criminal Procedure Rules; 50/1973 Coll., the Foster Care Act; 65/1965 Coll., the Labour Code; 29/1984 Coll., the Primary, Secondary and High Vocational Schools System Act; 100/1988 Coll., the Social Security Act; 114/1988 Coll., and the Act on the Competence of the Public Administration Bodies of the Czech Republic in the Sphere of the Social Security.
The Czech Republic only split off from Slovakia in 1993. Therefore, up until the last seven years or so, there was never a focus on the rights of the child. However, the Czech Republic has shown an awareness of the importance of children's rights since its inception, though the country has been facing other difficult children's issues including child pornography, child-trafficking and prostitution, and discriminatory practices against minority children.
The Czech Republic has been attempting to implement law reforms that seek to further protect the rights of children through amendments to existing legislation and the creation of new legislation. The country has also initiated a crisis line for children, and a training program for judges, police, and government officials in dealing with children's rights. However, it is difficult to identify the primary actors in furthering children's rights in legal proceedings, which is the partial cause of the lack of coordination in efforts to further the implementation of the CRC. The responsibility is spread out over several ministries, and then between those ministries and non-governmental organizations.
Sources of Law
Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
1. Státy, které jsou smluvní stranou úmluvy, zabezpeèují dítìti, které je schopno formulovat své vlastní názory,právo tyto názory svobodnì vyjadøovat ve všech záležitostech, které se jej dotýkají, pøièemž se názorùmdítìte musí vìnovat patøièná pozornost odpovídající jeho vìku a úrovni.
2. Za tímto úèelem se dítìti zejména poskytuje možnost, aby bylo vyslyšeno v každém soudním nebo správnímøízení, které se jej dotýká, a to buï pøímo a nebo prostøednictvím zástupce nebo pøíslušného orgánu, pøièemžzpùsob slyšení musí být v souladu s procedurálními pravidly vnitrostátního zákonodárství.
European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights
Chapter II – Procedural measures to promote the exercise of children's rights
A. Procedural rights of a child
Article 3 – Right to be informed and to express his or her views in proceedings
A child considered by internal law as having sufficient understanding, in the case of proceedings before a judicial authority affecting him or her, shall be granted, and shall be entitled to request, the following rights:
a. to receive all relevant information;
b. to be consulted and express his or her views;
c. to be informed of the possible consequences of compliance with these views and the possible consequences of any decision.
Article 4 – Right to apply for the appointment of a special representative
1. Subject to Article 9, the child shall have the right to apply, in person or through other persons or bodies, for a special representative in proceedings before a judicial authority affecting the child where internal law precludes the holders of parental responsibilities from representing the child as a result of a conflict of interest with the latter.
2. States are free to limit the right in paragraph 1 to children who are considered by internal law to have sufficient understanding.
Article 5 – Other possible procedural rights
Parties shall consider granting children additional procedural rights in relation to proceeding before a judicial authority affecting them, in particular:
a. the right to apply to be assisted by an appropriate person of their choice in order to help them express their views;
b. the right to apply themselves, or through other persons or bodies, for the appointment of a separate representative, in appropriate cases a lawyer;
c. the right to appoint their own representative;
d. the right to exercise some or all of the rights of parties to such proceedings.
B. Role of judicial authorities
Article 6 – Decision-making process
In proceedings affecting a child, the judicial authority, before taking a decision, shall:
a. consider whether it has sufficient information at its disposal in order to take a decision in the best interests of the child and, where necessary, it shall obtain further information, in particular from the holders of parental responsibilities;
b. in a case where the child is considered by internal law as having sufficient understanding:
– ensure that the child has received all relevant information;
– consult the child in person in appropriate cases, if necessary privately, itself or through other persons or bodies, in a manner appropriate to his or her understanding, unless this would be manifestly contrary to the best interests of the child;
– allow the child to express his or her views;
c. give due weight to the views expressed by the child.
Additional Resources and Links
 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.cirp.org/library/ethics/UN-convention/ (entered into force in the Czech Republic on Jan. 1, 1993).
 Unicef, Convention on the Rights of the Child, http://www.unicef.at/kinderrechte/download/crcczech.pdf (Last visited Nov. 30, 2006), available as .pdf Document.
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