Article 37

I have the right not to be punished in a cruel or hurtful way.

Content note: This article discusses violence.

Article 37 of the UNCRC says that children and young people:

  • shouldn’t be tortured
  • shouldn’t be imprisoned for life with no chance of release
  • shouldn’t lose their freedom for no reason or in a way that is illegal.

Being arrested

Article 37 covers what happens if a child or young person commits a crime. It says they shouldn’t be arrested unless there are no other options, and that they have a right for lawyers to give them advice about their situation and represent them in court.

If a child or young person is placed in detention they should remain there for the shortest possible time, and should:

  • be treated with respect
  • if in their best interest, be kept apart from adults
  • have their age taken into account when people think about their needs.

Losing your freedom

Article 37 also applies to young people who are detained without committing a crime. Some people who might be in this situation include:

  • people with disabilities
  • people who have recently emigrated.

Related articles

Article 19

Children and young people should be protected from violence when in detention or prison.

Article 22

Children and young people should be respected if they are refugees in detention.

Article 25

A child or young person's situation should be reviewed when they're in detention or prison to make sure their rights are being respected.

Article 34

A child or young person should be protected from sexual violence when in detention or prison.

Article 40

Article 40 is concerned with children, young people and the justice system.

Full text

This article is a simplified version of Article 37 of the UNCRC. The full text of the Article can be found below:

States Parties shall ensure that:
(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;
(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.


4 great videos that explain your rights at court

Watch videos from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights that explain your rights at court.

Youth and Criminal Justice in Scotland: The young person's journey

This interactive resource from the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice explains the different journeys a young person can take after being accused of an offence.