Justice for Children: High-Level Visit to Zenica
Sarajevo, 4 December 2013. – H.E. Dr. André Schaller, Ambassador of Switzerland in Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Fredrik Schiller, Ambassador of Sweden in BiH, and the UNICEF Representative in BiH, Ms Florence Bauer with their teams visited Zenica today, as part of their collaboration to strengthen justice for children in BiH. The Programme “Protection of Children at Risk and Children in Contact with the Justice System in BiH” has been implemented since 2010 by relevant Government authorities and UNICEF, with funding support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
Zenica is one of the nine selected municipalities where the first phase of the Programme has been implemented at the local level. The number of juvenile offenders decreased by 16% in 2012, compared with 2011. Thanks to the project, inter-sector cooperation among professionals working with children and juveniles was also enhanced; conditions for implementation of alternative measures for children in conflict with the law were improved; and a Protocol of cooperation between relevant institutions was adopted. The Association of Social Pedagogues, in collaboration with the Centre for Social Work, enabled better identification and protection of families at risk, with the aim of enhancing prevention.
“Justice for every child means in short three “P”s: protect, provide and participate. We have to protect our children from violence, abuse and neglect. We have to provide health, social support and education. Children need to be able to participate in all matters which concern them. Of course, Switzerland, Sweden and UNICEF can only help to share the experience and give support and we congratulate Zenica municipality on the progress achieved so far. - stressed Andre Schaller Ambassador of Switzerland in BiH.
„The reform of the juvenile justice system is but one of the requirements to ensure a proper implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of the child, a set of globally accepted rules which include the equal treatment of children without discrimination, the right to live and develop in a healthy manner, the right to be heard in all matters affecting him or her - in short – to always secure the best interests of the child..” – stated H.E. Fredrik Schiller, Ambassador of Sweden in BiH.
""A central feature of the Justice for Children approach is how focusing on protection and reintegration rather than on repression, is more effective in preventing offending and re-offending. This programme on justice for children enabled municipalities like Zenica to reduce the number of offenses involving juveniles - in Zenica, according to data from CSW, there was a 16% decrease from 2011 to 2012. This was achieved through the implementation of specific prevention programmes organized together with schools; establishment of child friendly rooms in police stations facilitating more reliable and less traumatizing interrogations of juveniles, the development and implementation of alternative measures to detention which focus on reintegrating juveniles into society. We will now build on these results to expand the programme with a more targeted focus on preventing offenses amongst at-risk juveniles" - said UNICEF Representative in BiH, Florence Bauer." - said UNICEF Representative in BiH, Florence Bauer.
The delegation will meet with the Mayor of Municipality Zenica, H.E. Mr. Husejin Smajlovic and Mr. Selver Kelestura, Coordinator of the Juvenile Justice Interdisciplinary Team, as well as representatives from the police, the social work sector, justice and education, as well as civil society. They will discuss key project results and lessons learned, in line with the adopted Municipal Action Plan on justice for children.
The delegation visited the Child-Friendly room in the police station, together with H.E. Mr. Rifat Delic, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Zenica-Doboj Canton and Mr. Fahrudin Becirevic, Police Commissioner. As part of the programme, in collaboration with Ministries of Interior, and based on good practices, 16 police stations and two police academies were equipped with child friendly rooms in BiH.
The delegation also visited the Department for juveniles at the Zenica Penitentiary institution, together with the Director, Mr. Hidajet Jabandžić. As a result of joint advocacy, all juveniles are separated from adults in one separate pavilion and have individual rooms. Finally, the members of the delegation will have an opportunity to meet the director of the Centre for Social Work, Ms. Nurka Babović and representatives of social welfare institutions to discuss best practices and lessons learned in implementing alternative measures and promoting the reintegration of children into society, in line with international standards.