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Specific recommendations for the reforms of juvenile justice in Albania

Mr. Robert Badinter (left) during his meeting with the Prime Minister of Albania, Prof. Dr. Sali Berisha

TIRANA, Albania, 14 October 2011 - The distinguished and highly-respected human rights advocate, criminal lawyer, university professor and former Minister of Justice in France Robert BADINTER visited Albania from 12-14 October 2011, upon the invitation of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Mr. Robert BADINTER came to assist authorities to advance the reform of the juvenile justice system.

Mr. Robert Badinter visited several detention facilities holding children, and a police commissariat. He met juveniles convicted of an offense and those awaiting trial, government officials, the Prime Minister, workers in the penitentiary system, and civil society. Together with Mr. Halimi, Minister of Justice, he addressed a large number of justice professionals to share his findings and recommendations.

Overall, the system of juvenile justice has much improved over the last years. In particular, the facility for convicted juvenile offenders in Kavaja now offers education and programmes aimed to promote the reintegration of juveniles into society after their release. However, the condition of juveniles awaiting trial is not the same, as such rehabilitative measures are not always adequately provided.

Speaking at the press conference in Tirana, Robert BADINTER said “Justice for juveniles must not primarily be seeking punishment, but provide opportunity for rehabilitation and reintegration. We are encouraging the Albanian authorities to build up a comprehensive system to address the juvenile offenders according to standards in line with the Convention ion the Rights of the Child.”

Mr Badinter highlighted three issues in need of urgent attention:

  • Legislation need to be created to provide a response to offenders below the age of 14 years, which is the age of criminal responsibility. “These children need adequate support from the education system and social services, so that they do not become repeat offenders. They need to be assisted in the family environment, at home and in their community” said Mr. Robert Badinter
  • The time juveniles spend in detention while awaiting trial is far above the acceptable limits. Jung people must get on with their life, and continue their education. Many juveniles should be able to stay at home while awaiting trial. It is not acceptable that many juveniles have spend their entire sentence, when sentenced, in pre-trial detention.
  • Whether in prison as convicted offender, or whether a young person awaiting trial, education must continue. Compulsory education also applied to those who have come in conflict with the law.

The Minister of Justice. Mr. Halimi, confirmed the progress already made and restated the commitment of Government to address the issues highlighted By Mr. Badinter. Several initiatives are already under way, including the preparation of a special strategy for juvenile justice.

UNICEF Representative in Albania, Detlef Palm, concluded “Children are not half adults, and they should not simply be given half the sentence. Children are developing, and they need an entirely different response, which has to be focused on continuous education and rehabilitation.” - “Most people can find consensus if it is about the wellbeing and the rights of children. I am sure that the appropriate legislation can be enacted swiftly, with support from all political sides”

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert BADINTER is a distinguished high-profile French criminal lawyer, university professor and politician. He is a renowned civil liberties advocate mainly known for his struggle against death penalty. A member of the Socialist Party, he served as Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seal. Then, he was appointed President of Constitutional Council of the French Republic, for a period of nine years. From 1989, Robert BADINTER has been called for expertise work on constitutional problems in the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. Currently, he is a Senator for the Hauts-de-Seine department. Born in Paris on 30 March 1928.

For further information please contact UNICEF office:

Anila Miria, Communication Officer
Tel:  069 20 24 185
amiria@unicef.org
 
Leon Shestani, Social Services Specialists
lshestani@unicef.org

 

 

 

 

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