Georgia is approaching international standards in juvenile justice
TBILISI. 14 April. 2010 – The Government of Georgia together with UNICEF and the European Union is reviewing today the mid-term achievements of the two year partnership project aimed at reforming the juvenile justice system in Georgia. The project called “Reform Options for the Penitentiary and Probation Systems for Convicted Child Offenders in Georgia” has been implemented by the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Ministry of Justice and UNICEF with the financial support of the European Union since March 2009.
The aim of the project is to establish a juvenile justice system that is focused on rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with the law into society.
"EU has been significantly promoting and supporting the reforms in the field of juvenile justice”, said H.E Per Eklund, Head of Delegation of the European Union. ”The progress made in the field is noticeable. The cooperation of the main stakeholders of the Government of Georgia, UNICEF and the Georgian NGOs has proved to be successful and EU shall be supporting the reforms in this sector for the future as well. UNICEF expertise and EU financial assistance of EURO 1,270,000 prove to be an important contribution into the reform process undertaken by the Government."
“We appreciate the Government’s efforts to adopt the juvenile justice strategy and the new Code of Imprisonment prioritising rehabilitation of young offenders and increased reliance on non-custodial sentences”, said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Reversing the age of criminal responsibility back to 14 is also an important step forward in implementing the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. However, more efforts need to be taken to ensure that detention is used as the last resort for children in conflict with the law”.
A special room at the Educational Establishment for Juveniles has been refurbished and fitted out as a site for vocational training. Living rooms and learning spaces for underage girls in Women’s Prison #5 have been rehabilitated, refurbished and equipped with computers and other materials. As a result, female juveniles are now completely separated from the adult prisoners as per international standards.
Thanks to various vocational programmes the boys at the Educational Establishment for Juveniles learn how to do a haircut, perform web design, video editing, computer repair and animation. Vocational classes have also been launched in the Women’s Prison and girls study hairdressing and dressmaking.
Special focus within the project has been made on developing individual plans for children considering their individual needs and requirements. The reform aims at introducing such programmes that will help children facing the risk of committing a crime to avoid such risk. At the same time for those who are serving their sentences in prisons this should be a way of reintegration into the society as its full-fledged members.
Strengthening alternatives to detention for juveniles is another vital part of the reform project. The juvenile probation system is being overhauled to increase the focus on child rights, reintegration and rehabilitation. Special rooms have been refurbished and equipped and Restorative Gesture Programme has been launched in the Tbilisi Probation Office.
All the Probation officers working with juveniles have undergone special trainings in dealing with juveniles thanks to the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. A service of psychological assistance has also been introduced in Tbilisi.
Most of the children engaged in the Restorative Gesture Programme speak for the first time about their offenses, about their feelings during and after this events. Through different tools they realize the impact of the crime on themselves and on people around. They start feeling compassion for other people. The changes that occur in each participant can lead to the prevention of future crimes.