Mr Palm's address in the workshop on Probation Services on 14 December 2010
Workshop on the collaboration of the Probation Service with NGOs organized by the General Directorate of the Probation Service in collaboration with the Centre of Integrated Legal Services and Practices (CILSP) and UNICEF
I like to thank the Probation Services and the Centre for Integrated Legal Services and Practices (CILPS) for bringing us together today. The establishment of probation services in January 2009 filled a big gap in the Albanian judiciary administration, in particular for juveniles who we don’t want to finish in detention if we can avoid it. As mentioned by Mr Sefgjini, it was important to complete all the acts and bylaws to regulate the function of probation and its partnership with the NGOs. Good progress has been made.
But with completing the legislative work, the work now begins. We want to extend probation services into 4 new districts.
I learned about the story of Erjon, who was the first juvenile to be sentenced by Tirana court to serve a community service in September 2007. There were no probation services at the time. He was a first-time offender. He grew up with one parent. He stole a bicycle with two friends. He had a difficult background. He served at YAPS and the Legal Clinic provided supervision and support. When interviewed, he said: “This gave me the possibility to get to know a lot of people. For the first time I met somebody who was asking me what I think of my future. Aferdita (a dedicated social worker) came to visit my mother and siblings. She found a place for me in the Don Bosco vocational school to learn plumbing. I am grateful for this, which I hope will help me find a job.”
Let me reflect on this. Probation is not only a temporary job. As Erjon said: It connects him to people who care. He met people who were interested in his future. Erjon got re-connected to society. He grew up in a neighbourhood, perhaps impoverished, rough, where everyone was thinking about himself, and everyone was struggling for his own survival. In probation he met people who cared, and who connect him back to the rest of society.
And this is my only point I want to make. Probation is not just an everyday job for the probationer, or for probation officer, or for a social worker. Probation services Probation services must show compassion and understanding, and a willingness to connect people so can positively learn from each other. It is a huge challenge, and I know that you are up for it. You have a difficult and noble job. The treatment of juveniles must be different from the adults, with complementary services, including vocational training. Last year, about 42% of the sentences for juveniles by courts included in the pilot phase were referred to civil society organizations and probation, and we want this figure to increase. And we want the juveniles to be reconnected, so they can find work and live a decent life.
I wish you success in your deliberations and agreements, and hope for an even stronger partnership between NGOs and probation services. We from UNICEF are ready to assist, as necessary. Another chance out of the prison, in particular for first time offenders, serves better the wellbeing and the interest of the child, its family, and the community.