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Evaluation report

2012 Moldova: Final Evaluation of the “Reform of Juvenile Justice System in Moldova” Project



Author: Kirsten Anderson

Executive summary

"With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is "Outstanding, Best Practice", "Highly Satisfactory", "Mostly Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory" before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labeled as 'Part 2' of the report."

Background:

Making evaluation has been decided due to the completion of the four-year project “Reform of the Juvenile Justice System in Moldova”, carried out by UNICEF Moldova and fully funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The scope was to examine and assess the results and achievements of this reform project. The evaluation was also considered necessary to inform further policy work and programming by UNICEF.

Purpose/Objective:

The evaluation was done with the purpose:
1. To evaluate contribution of the project to juvenile justice reform, including contribution to the development of new policies and legislation in the area;
2. To provide insight into the current status of juvenile justice / justice for children system and strategic recommendations for the next steps in the reform process relevant for all engaged stakeholders; and
3. To evaluate the impact of the reform on children who have been in contact with the law through children’s own opinions.

Methodology:

A desk review of relevant international and domestic laws, guidelines and policy documents; internal and published UNICEF documents; government documents; and other resources was initially carried out. Available quantitative data on offending by children, and the operation of the juvenile justice system, was analyzed and additional quantitative data was sought. Researchers carried out semi-standardized interviews with a range of national-level representatives, rayon-level professionals working in the juvenile justice system, NGOs and children in conflict with the law; and conducted observation visits to detention facilities.

Findings and Conclusions:

The project was largely successful in achieving expected results. Significantly, from 2007 to 2010, the total number of children in detention dropped by 68%, which far exceeded the expected results as set out before the commencement of the project. As well as a drop in absolute terms of the number of children in detention, the rate of children being placed in pre-trial detention as a proportion of all child accused, and the proportion of children placed in prison of all children sentenced had reduced from 7% and 14% (2007) to 2% and 9% (2010), respectively.

Relevance of project activities: All of the project activities were found to be relevant to the aims of bringing law and practice in Moldova into compliance with international law and creating a child-friendly juvenile justice system, which also is in accordance with the human rights based approach to development.

Effectiveness: The project activities were mostly effective in creating a child-friendly juvenile justice system, which complies with international standards. The legal developments had the effect of ensuring greater compliance with international law. Training and support to probation officers and detention facilities has had the effect of ensuring that new legal provisions are operationalised and being used by professionals in practice.

Impact: The project activities have mostly had a very positive impact on children in conflict with the law. A large proportion of children are being diverted out of the formal criminal justice system, which inevitably avoids the negative social and psychological impacts of labelling these children ‘criminals’. Children in detention facilities have been positively impacted by vastly improved material conditions, and, to a lesser extent, by educational programmes, psychological support, and aftercare services. 

Sustainability of the project activities: Project activities are largely sustainable beyond the life of the project.  

Recommendations:

Recommendations have been grouped and prioritised according to the following categories:
- Short-term: should be finalised within one year
- Medium-term: should be finalised within three years
- Long-term: should be finalised within five years

Among main recommendations it is necessary to mention: to prohibit use of solitary confinement; to develop a centralized data collection and collation system; to support the development of psycho-social services for diverted children from judicial system; to create specialized court procedures/judges in cases where children are involved. 

Lessons Learned:

Considering importance of quality of the legal service , quality standards and indicators should be developed and used. In order to encourage the use of diversion measures, there should also be developed sufficient social and psychological services available at the local level to respond to the needs of a wide range of children.

Educational programmes in detention facilities will be limited in effectiveness and impact if quantitative and qualitative indicators and standards will not be developed.



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