Author: MOLISA and UNICEF
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A Situational Analysis of Juvenile Justice in Vietnam was undertaken by the Ministry of Justice and UNICEF in 2005.The report sketched the nature and extent of juvenile offending in Hai Phong. It was identified that although the first time offenders and non serious crimes received community based education; more than 10,000 juveniles in conflict with the Law (hereafter referred to as „JICWL‟) had been sent to reform schools by both the administrative and criminal justice systems between 1995-2005.
The picture of a steady increase in the number of JICWL, the high number of children dealt with via the administrative sanction process and the over-utilisation of reform schools as a sanction were the reasons that motivated the setting up of the project. Noting the trend towards the use of community –based education for JICWL, and in line with the commitment of Vietnam in complying with international law and policy, the Vietnamese government, together with UNICEF, established a pilot project on non-custodial measures, reintegration and support services to JICWL in Hai Phong.
The choice of Hai Phong was motivated on several grounds. First, as one of the largest cities in Vietnam, Hai Phong has the third largest number of juveniles charged with criminal offences, after Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Although the majority of juvenile law violations in Hai Phong are administrative rather than criminal, the percentage of criminal violations is higher than the national average, and the number is rising.
The reason was the fact that work on Juvenile Justice had been done there previously (by the Vietnam government in collaboration with UNICEF), including a participatory psychosocial assessment on JICWL in 2004 and capacity building through workshops, multi-sectoral training on Juvenile Justice and the development of training manuals on juvenile justice adapted to Hai Phong in 2006; a protocol on child friendly investigation, a draft inter-agency circular on child friendly investigation, prosecution and court proceedings, training on the use of a case management approach, and training on psychosocial assessments and supports on juvenile justice.
The Pilot Project was a joint initiative of the CPFC and UNICEF. Following discussions from the multi-sectoral training on juvenile justice in Hai Phong (April 2006) a joint recommendation was made
a. To implement one integrated pilot on support services and psychosocial supports for JICWL to improve the services of juveniles subject to commune level education and for those informally sanctioned; and
b. To strengthen the co-ordination mechanism at the central, city and local levels.
The CPFC was discontinued in March 2008, and the relevant services for JICWL were transferred to MOLISA, which then became the major government implementing agency for the pilot project.
A Steering Committee for the pilot project was established in January 2007. It is composed of 14 staff at city and district levels (PC; CPFC; police; MOLISA; MoJ; Court; Procuracy; mass organizations) Regular meetings were held to discuss project implementation and constraints since January 2007.
Design of the pilot project was incorporated in an inter-agency protocol which was approved by the PC of Hai Phong (December 2006). This defined several issues such as the coordination mechanism; beneficiaries; objectives and service outcomes and indicators of the pilot; districts where the pilot would take place; roles and responsibilities of key agencies, including coordination, referral mechanism and case management; proposed list and description of the programs/services to be implemented from 2006-2010; as well as a monitoring and evaluation system.
The project‟s objectives were described in the protocol document. They were reflected as follows:
1. Increased skills of staff dealing with JICWL and those at risk , especially those involved in the pilot project (social work and case management, counselling training focusing on JICWL; monitoring training for the pilot project; and income generation activities)
2. Increased knowledge of restorative programs and services to be offered by the staff involved in the pilot project for JICWL sanctioned to community level education, those being dealt informally and being sent back by the reform schools to the selected district(s) of the pilot and those being investigated
3. Prevented juvenile crime and further repeat offences in the pilot area
4. Served as a model of social reintegration of JICWL, and if positive outcomes, it can be replicated in other districts of Hai Phong and other provinces and cities
5. Response and psychosocial support and other support services to JICWL and those at risk to commit crimes improved
In early 2008 MOLISA, CPFC Hai Phong & UNICEF agreed to conduct an evaluation of the pilot project. MOLISA requested technical assistance from UNICEF with both the formulation and implementation of the evaluation. The evaluation takes place two years into the operation of the project. It is therefore a mid-term evaluation, as the project period was intended to be from 2006 to 2010. The aim of this evaluation is to assess both the implementation progress to date, and the impact of the pilot project, using data from a desk review of existing reports; a qualitative survey and a field survey. This evaluation aims to gain an understanding of project operation, and to document project impact, relevance and effectiveness. It further aims to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the pilot project, to make appropriate recommendations to improve the implementation and impact of the project, to assess sustainability and make recommendations regarding replication.
The objectives of the evaluation articulated by MOLISA and UNICEF were to:
1) Assess the process of the design and implementation of the pilot project
2) Assess its impact; effectiveness; relevance; sustainability; efficiency, etc; to date against the stated project objectives, key results, and services outcomes and indicators
3) Identify lessons learnt, problems and constraints encountered by the project
4) Provide recommendations on how to improve pilot project implementation and effectiveness
5) Provide recommendations to the government (MOLISA, legislator, policy makers) on if and how to scale up this pilot project (with and indication of whether that may require law amendment)
The methodology of the evaluation consisted of three components. The first was a desk review compiled by the international consultant. The second component was a qualitative data analysis, based on questionnaires completed by various project partners. The third component was field research, undertaken by the team of consultants at the three pilot sites. The main purpose of this was to gauge the views of people working on the project at ground level, as well as the views of the beneficiaries of the project, including parents and JICWL.
Recommendations to improve the project
Extend the scope of the project to include “children at risk”
Develop better and different opportunities for JICWL in the community, to link them with educational, vocational training and employment opportunities
The restorative justice aspect of the original project objectives should be considered for inclusion in the project
A new protocol document should be developed in which aActivities should be linked to objectives and better indicators should be developed to measure the activities of the project.
Recommendations regarding the replication of the project
Due to the need to provide further evidence of the effectiveness of this project it is necessary to replicate the project, or a modified verion of the project. It is recommended that UNICEF and MOLISA should urgently hold discussions regarding the replication of the pilot project. These discussions should aim for agreement on:
the model to be replicated (including broadening of scope to include children at risk, the improvements to be made, as well as the need to incorporate the community based child protection system)
the sites where the replication will occur
the responsibilities to be taken by each of the partners
Recommendations regarding possible reform of law and policy
The following areas of the law should be revised:
The power of the peoples' committee to refer children who are in the administrative system
The fact children who are 12 years or older but under the age of 14 years are also given sanctions, wheras they are legally below the age of criminal capacity
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