12 August 2023

Dear friends,

Today we celebrate International Youth Day, established by the United Nations to recognize the leaders of the next generation and emphasize the integral role youth can play in creating their own future. This is a cause near and dear to our hearts at IBJ, and we are excited to participate in this global celebration.

While today we honor the success and power of our generation, we must also remember the one million children currently suffering in prisons around the world. These children are often detained and tried as adults, imprisoned for years on end without ever seeing a judge, and subjected to unthinkable brutality at the hands of broken juvenile justice systems.

To fight for the rights of our vulnerable brothers and sisters, the IBJ Youth Charter Initiative is committed to building a global community who support and give a voice to these children.

The Youth Justice Charter, a movement which seeks to spread awareness about their plight, is the first youth led global campaign dedicated solely to the rights of juvenile prisoners. We hope that the Charter, which is available on our website, will be signed by every global citizen as a pledge to uphold its commitments and participate in the fight. We hope you will take the time to add your signature and join our movement.

In the spirit of recognizing the incredible youth leaders already dedicated to reforming their justice systems, we conducted our first ever Youth Charter Competition earlier this year.  The winners, our Youth Charter Defenders, have been awarded grants to implement innovative projects to aid children in conflict with the law. Some examples of promising Defenders are Syria’s Alaa, who is building the first Juvenile Court in her village, Democratic Republic of Congo’s Eric Makala, who is committed to providing free legal aid to convicted child soldiers, and Burundi’s Anna Bella, who is using her background as a journalist to raise human rights awareness and inspire change for her country’s juvenile incarceration system.

Currently, we aim to raise 50’000 USD to fund dozens of these innovative projects around the world.

So today, in honor of International Youth Day, we are proud to introduce to you the inaugural class of Youth Charter Defenders below. 

Join the movement, protect youth around the world, and help to carry out the mission of the Youth Justice Charter, we invite you to stand in solidarity with our Youth Charter Defenders.

Together, we can enact change in the name of a better future for all.

With hope and gratitude,

Nathaniel Wong
Founder, Youth Charter Initiative

Jean Claude Barakamfitiye
Africa Regional Juvenile Justice and Youth Coordinator

Elizabeth Visser
Youth Advisor