Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines At Terre des hommes

1. Terre des hommes Iraq – Access to Justice Program

Tdh is a leading Swiss child rights agency present in the MENA region since 1973. Currently, Tdh operates in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, and Iraq. Afghanistan and Pakistan belong programmatically and operationally to the MENA portfolio at Tdh as well. Within the region, Tdh has in place 3 specialized programs: (1) Access to Justice for Children and Youth, within which a ‘Gender Justice’ theme is carried out, (2) Children and youth affected by migration, and (3) Child and Maternal Health. Those programs, in addition to the specialized technical staff within each of them, are supported by a Child Protection Transversal Unit as well as a Quality and Accountability Unit.

More information can be found here:

Since January 2019, Tdh has been a pioneering actor in justice for children and youth programming in Iraq. Within the current Access to Justice program, Tdh aims at promoting justice practices which incorporates a restorative component as to provide appropriate solutions to (re)establish the concept of positive and child-friendly justice among offenders, victims and their communities, but also towards the stakeholders in country, from authorities to national civil society involved in child justice matters. The complementary objectives are to ensure (1) the application of strong legal principles such as specialized justice systems for children, diversion and alternatives to detention, (2) the best interest of the child at all stages of the judicial procedures including post-release/aftercare, (3) psychological, sociological and criminological theories that take into account the comprehensive development of children and youth, (4) the setting up of safe and effective reintegration pathways from the first contact with the justice systems till long after their release in order to ensure the continuum of care, sustainability and minimize the risks related to re-offending/recidivism.

Therefore, current Tdh activities in Iraq mainly focus on providing specialized support to foster safe and sustainable reintegration processes for children in contact with the law and their families as well as reinforcing the child justice system through promoting their access to child-friendly legal aid, fostering synergies between formal and informal justice actors, reinforcing child protection community-based mechanisms, sensitize decision makers to practically improve child justice system in country and contribute to the training of Judges on specific child justice proceedings.

2. Rationale of the consultancy

Children come into contact (victims, witness) and conflict (offenders) with the law for various reasons – as defendants or witnesses in criminal proceedings; as parties in family proceedings; as victims of physical or psychological violence, sexual abuse or other crimes or rights violations. The outcomes of these cases can be hugely significant for the children’s lives in both the long term and the short term. They can determine whether the children go into detention, access alternatives to detention, whom they will live with, what contact they can have with their parents and siblings, if where they will access education or not, etc..

Most children who are in contact and in conflict with the law find the actual experience of legal proceedings confusing at best and a source of fear, distress and secondary victimization at worst. It is not unusual for them to find it difficult to communicate with the adults involved, to mistrust police and judges, to lack basic information and understanding about processes and procedures, and to face discrimination because of their age, gender or other characteristics such as living and working on the street. Recalling painful events can be very stressful for child victims, witnesses and offenders, and if the legal procedure is not child-sensitive it may have long-term and harmful consequences for their recovery and reintegration. However, usually because of specialized knowledge and/or resources, legal systems do not enable children to participate in proceedings in a safe, meaningful and dignified manner.

One important building block for a child-friendly justice system is for children to have access to expert, specialized and trusted legal professionals. Such lawyers can make an enormous difference to a child’s experience of the justice system and to the outcome of the case.

In Iraq, while the country is progressively investing in improving comprehensively the child-friendly justice system, child-friendly legal aid standards are not yet available neither procedural guidelines advising the different steps, challenges and possibilities children may face or have during judicial procedures.

Tdh Iraq counts with the concrete expertise and capacity to support the development of a comprehensive policy guidance: “Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines in Judicial Procedures” in collaboration with the main stakeholders which aims at providing a strong and practical framework for action that promotes and supports children’s access to justice in country.

3. Objective of the consultancy

Under this consultancy contract, Tdh requires the services of a specialized International or National consultant to develop a high-quality policy guidance: “Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines in Judicial Procedures”. The consultant will work in close coordination with Tdh team.

Specific emphasis should be put on international, regional and national legal frameworks that are relevant to the specific topic at stake. The four general principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: the right to non-discrimination; the right to life, survival and development; the right to be heard; and the principle that the best interests of children should be a primary consideration in decision making that affects them. It is very relevant to unpack the aforementioned principles to practically inform the work of legal practitioners when providing legal aid, to detail how these principles are present and should apply to different stages of the criminal proceeding and civil documentation process driven by the child’s lawyer.

The policy guidance under this consultancy will be based on an initial assessment of the child justice proceedings in Iraq (already developed by Tdh). It will include an analysis of the child-friendly legal standards (procedural) to be met by lawyers during the different judicial stages. As a minimum: arrest, settling, investigation phase (evidence collection, testimonies, etc.), during trial, deprivation of liberty, alternatives to detention. It should also include principles of engagement and safeguarding the relationship lawyer-children/youth.

Key themes and challenges that arise in providing child-friendly legal aid to children would need to be analysed and contextualized. For instance (non-exhaustive list): legal competence, specialization and professionals’ skills providing legal aid to children, children’s views and voice are heard and given due weight throughout the legal process, child-sensitive communication, privacy and confidentiality, avoidance of secondary victimization, multi-sectoral approach: collaboration with other sectoral professionals, etc.

The process of development would require engaging the Bar Association, High Judicial Institute, relevant ministries, other (I)NGOs, especially Tdh partners and those providing legal aid in country. It would be essential to bring the voice of children to the process so to not only rely on the legal framework and adults involved in the process, but to know, acknowledge and act upon children’s experience when they are the clients.

The policy guidance would be used as a training, monitoring and guidance tool for justice and legal practitioners in country when addressing and making legal intervention for children offenders, victims and witnesses making sure the appropriate standards apply and abide to, and children are treated fairly, with respect, dignity and equality.

Kindly note that the technical proposal to be submitted should include a concrete specification and details of the aforementioned elements. It should be a practical and straight forward but comprehensive, technically solid and well-grounded.

4. Scope of the consultancy and deliverables

The scope of work and expected deliverables are the following:

  1. Desk review on the consultancy’s topic. Tdh will support with the collection of key documents for this desk review stage.
  2. Focus Groups Discussions/Interviews with key actors, including children and their families. A concrete list to be proposed in the technical proposal. The process will be accompanied and facilitated by Tdh lead.
  3. Based on the processes mentioned above and in consultation Tdh teams, prepare a comprehensive list of contents to be included in the “Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines in Judicial Procedures” as well as the participatory methodology to be applied with all the key participants that need to be involved, trained and monitored. The outline of the full document needs to be validated by Tdh prior to proceed with the following stages.
  4. Draft specific, detailed and practical policy guidance (in English only): “Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines in Judicial Procedures”.

Deliverables summary:

1. Inception Report on Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines applicable to Iraq (5 days). Tasks:

  • Interview questionnaires (to be approved by Tdh) and preliminary meeting with the A2J technical team (2 days)
  • Desk review of the international standards, relevant literature and revision of the material proposed by Tdh and the initial assessment of the child justice proceedings in Iraq (e.g legal processes in country) (2 days)
  • Draft Outline of the policy guidance (table of contents) that contains the preliminary structure of the policy guidance document (to be approved by Tdh) (1 day)

2. Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines in Judicial Procedures (12 days). Tasks:

  • Interviews with key stakeholders (Iraqi lawyers bar associations, High Judicial Institute, Ministry of Justice, CSOs, children in contact with the law and their families) (2 days)
  • Develop a comprehensive list of contents the participatory methodology to be applied with all the key participants (2 days)
  • Develop a participatory methodology to be applied with all the key participants that need to be involved, trained and monitored on the content of the guidelines (3 days)
  • Develop a specific, detailed and practical policy guidance: “Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines in Judicial Procedures (5 days)

5. Methodology

The consultant will strictly follow the work plan and the time schedule agreed with Tdh in undertaking the consultancy assignment.

An appropriate methodology will have to be determined by the consultant and submitted with the consultancy technical proposal. It will be reviewed by Tdh and adjust accordingly with the consultant if needed prior to the signature of the consultancy contract.

6. Timeframe

The consultant is expected to use own computer and other equipment required for the task***.***

The duration of the consultancy contract shall be for a maximum of 17 working days, between September and November. Final deliverable shall be submitted (in English) on the 10th of December at the latest.

7. Profile of the consultant: qualifications and experience

  • A post-graduate or equivalent qualification/degree in Law, Gender and Law, Criminology, Human rights, Political Science, Development Studies, Humanities or any other relevant discipline. Excellency level of legal expertise in country would be prioritized.
  • At least 6-9 years of prior work experience in dealing with legal aid, justice procedures involving children.
  • Proven sound experience on drafting similar deliverables (providing concrete examples and when possible excerpts/samples).
  • Excellent written and speaking skills in English
  • Fluency in Arabic is strongly recommended

How to apply

Consultants/firms that meet the requirements should submit expression of interest, which should include the following:

  1. Cover letter including the consultant’s/firm’s suitability for the assignment and current contact information (max. 1 page)
  2. Include 1-2 samples of previous similar work
  3. Technical offer; detailed response to the Terms of Refence herein, with specific focus addressing the purpose and objectives of the assignment, methodology to be used and key selection criteria (max. 7 pages)
  4. Financial offer; detailed budget breakdown based on expected daily rates and initial work plan. (max. 2 pages)
  5. Initial draft of the proposed work plan (max. 4 pages)

Prerequisites for accepting financial offers:

  • Prices are to be submitted in USD and are valid for 30 days starting from the applications’ closing date. Prices have to be inclusive of taxes.
  • The quotation must be detailed and based on the work mechanism proposed by the consultant.

All offers must be e-mailed to (Tdh Access to Justice Technical Coordinator in Iraq) no later than 16thof September at 11.59 pm (Baghdad time).

Mention in the e-mail object the title of the consultancy: Child-friendly Legal Aid Standards and Procedural Guidelines in Iraq

Only proposals in English and that include all the required documents will be assessed. Only contact short-listed candidates will be contacted.