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New protocol underlines alternative sentencing other than imprisonment for child offenders

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/2008/Grebennikova
A young boy at Uch-Korgon State Residential Institution (orphanage), Kyrgyzstan. The Government has publicly announced that around 60 per cent of inmates in prisons once lived in children's homes.

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzatan, 14 July 2008 - In May 2008, a Protocol on Mutual Understanding and Cooperation was signed between Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, the State Agency for Physical Education, Sport, Youth Affairs and Child Protection, and UNICEF.  The protocol underlines the reform of the juvenile justice system in Kyrgyzstan and the ongoing transition from a punitive to a restorative system for children in conflict with the law.
 
Under the agreement, Kyrgyzstan will work to strengthen its legislation to make it more in line with international standards. The Government will work towards improving the living conditions in penal institutions, and most importantly, giving alternative measures instead of imprisonment to child offenders.  
 
In accordance to the new protocol, UNICEF has started a pilot project in Bishkek since May 2008 to ensure that rights of all children who come into conflict with the law are protected from the very beginning. Through advocacy efforts, UNICEF is also working to increase awareness among law enforcement officials, judges, lawyers, and also society as a whole, educating them not to label juvenile offenders as criminals but as children who have found themselves in difficult situations.
 
Insan Generation, an non-governmental organization that has extensive experience in the area of rehabilitation of young offenders, has become UNICEF’s partner in implementing this project. Experienced Insan staff will accompany every child who has fallen into the hands of the law - from the moment of police custody through the court proceedings and further - to ensure every aspect of that child's rights is protected. 

Insan personnel will also provide socio-psychological reports on every child, including information on the motives for their offences to help the judiciary take the most appropriate restorative measures.
 
UNIECF and Insan have planned to carry out a series of training workshops for law enforcement officials, such as police and prosecutors, judges and penitentiary establishments. Materials for the training have been developed in respect to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Children's Code of the Kyrgyz Republic, and the draft Law on Juvenile Justice in the Kyrgyz Republic, which has been recently developed by a group of national experts with the support of UNICEF.

In addition, two social centers will also be established as part of the project, providing preventative services for minors who are at risk.

 

 
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