The right to counsel of children in conflict with the law: case study in Adama
Milki Makuriya Yadesa
The right to counse is the cornerstone for all other human rights of accused persons. The eminence of the right is even more acute in the case of children in conflict with the law. This necessitated state’s duty to deliver legal assistance to children in conflict with the law under international instruments. In Ethiopia, even though there is no domestic law which explicitly deal with the right to counsel of children in conflict with the law, various stipulations at both federal and regional level provide that the state bears the responsibility to appoint state funded counsel when miscarriage of justice would result. In Adama, the 2nd most populous town of Ethiopia next to Finfinne, the public defenders’ office, whichis given the responsibility to represent children in conflict with the law, is established under Adama Special Zone High Court. This paper argues that the office provides a mere representation to children in conflict with the law as the public defenders lack the competencies and the resource needed for the provision of child friendly legal assistance. Moreover, the representation is not sufficiently accessible. Consequently, the children in conflict with the law face substantial prejudice to their rights.