More children are ready to become full-fledged members of society thanks to the reform of the penitentiary and probation system in Georgia
TBILISI. 5 March. 2009 – A two year partnership project, aimed at supporting the Government of Georgia in reforming the penitentiary and probation system, is being launched today. The project called “Reform Options for the Penitentiary and Probation Systems for Convicted Child Offenders in Georgia” is implemented by the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance and UNICEF with the financial support of the European Union.
The aim is to establish a juvenile justice system that is focused on rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with the law into society.
“One of the priorities of our Ministry is the reform of the juvenile justice system. It is of paramount importance that after having served the sentence, a minor returns to society as a full-fledged member”, said Mr Dimitri Shashkin, the Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance.
“The protection of human rights and supremacy of law is one of the priorities of the EU-Georgia partnership programme”, said Ambassador Per Eklund, Head of Delegation of the European Commission in Georgia. “Reforming the juvenile justice sphere is one of the main priorities of the newly created Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance. European Union is ready to support the Government of Georgia in these endavours. UNICEF expertise and EU financial assistance of EURO 1,270,000 will be an important contribution into the reform process undertaken by the Government”, added Per Eklund.
“We think that the detention should be the last resort for children in conflict with the law”, said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia.
“The project will allow us to introduce rehabilitation programmes as alternatives to imprisonment, and to bring the existing system of juvenile justice administration in line with international standards. The Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance is leading the process and we would like to express our gratitude for their collaboration. We do express our appreciation to the European Union for their support and partnership”- Barberis added.
Reform of the juvenile justice system in Georgia is one of the key priorities of UNICEF and the Government of Georgia’s Programme of Cooperation. The reform envisages introduction of a reintegration-focused penitentiary and probation systems and also aims at ensuring that children are not criminalized unnecessarily, there are programmes of prevention and diversion, and personnel dealing with juveniles are adequately trained.
The project will establish and prioritize such programmes within the penitentiary and probation facilities such as vocational trainings, sport activities, constructive leisure time, social skill training, legal and psycho-social support, life skills education.
Within the penitentiary system the project will target cconvicted boys in Avchala Juvenile Detention Centre and convicted girls in Prison #5. The child probationers who are conditionally released from detention will be involved in existing educational and sport programmes.
The project also envisages training of penitentiary staff and probation officers as well as promoting the necessary policy and legislative amendments.
At end of 2008 the total number of juveniles in detention facilities amounted to 277, among them 179 were convicted juveniles and 98 those in pre-trial detention. In 2008, three juveniles were amnestied and 21 pardoned, while the number of early released juveniles was four.