Author(s) Maria da Assunção Pinhal Raimundo
Advisor(s) Cristina Dias
Year 2016

Synopsis The modern constitutional state stands out for the assurance of fundamental rights; for the rule of law; for the transparency as the value of the relationship between the State and the citizen; and for the efficacy, as the ethic result of the State’s functioning before the physical citizen at stake. The citizen is now recognized as the primary holder of justice as a value, therefore establishing itself as the topic around which the system shall be build and its functioning controlled. In an increasingly complex society and in a deeply changing Europe, justice regains today a decisive role and, in it, the courts regain an essential last reserved place. And here questions are raised, questions as fundamental as the courts’ independence, an independence which also expresses itself not as the shaping tool of a power, but as a shaping tool of the duty to answer before the citizens. For that reason, it constitutes one of the constitutional principles that citizens, children or adults, are equal before the law and should be treated as equal by the institutions, including the courts. In light of such principle, it is key to prioritize the “best interest of the child or young person” in the precise moment in which the analysis is done, following the paradigm of values, social and legal, that are in force at that moment in time.

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