Justice for children - the reform is moving forward
Diversion, Alternatives to Detention, and Rehabilitation are at the forefront
TBILISI. 8 June. 2011 – A child in conflict with the law has more chances now to get individual treatment and rehabilitation and to enjoy proper education and development thanks to the ongoing reform of the juvenile justice system. This was the main message of the conference held today at the Sheraton Metechi Palace summing up the achievements of the reform and identifying the priorities that remain. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance and the Ministry of Justice with the support of UNICEF and the European Union.
“We have accomplished a lot. The main focus is on the child. A juvenile entering the justice system has better opportunities now to receive proper support and rehabilitation than he or she had five years ago”, said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “thanks to the introduction of diversion schemes a child may not even enter the formal justice system but instead be subject to alternative measures. The reform continues and there is still a lot to be accomplished”.
The main achievements of the reform are improved policy and legislation for children engaged with the justice system; qualified personnel aware of child rights and child sensitivity; individual sentence planning for convicted children considering their specific needs and quality support received by social workers, psychologists and well trained probation officers.
Improved learning and living areas in detention facilities, diverse vocational training sessions now give children more opportunities to learn and to develop their skills in order to be better prepared for returning back to society. Rugby lessons introduced in the Special Establishment for juveniles help them to learn about healthy lifestyles and team spirit.
Thanks to the reform it is possible now to divert a child away from the judicial system for minor crimes through alternative measures like beneficial work or educational activities. It means that fewer children will have criminal records and more will enjoy better prospects for future through going through adequate rehabilitation and educational programmes.
The reform continues and future directions envisage more emphasis on strengthening diversion, broadening the range of alternative measures and sentences available to prosecutors and judges when dealing with children in conflict with the law, further training and specialisation of legal and law-enforcement personnel, and engaging actors from across government and civil society in prevention activities.
Since 2008, concerted efforts to overhaul the juvenile justice system have been led by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance with the support of UNICEF, the EU and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The reform is committed to working towards a juvenile justice system focused on the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with the law, both as a means of preventing re-offending and of ensuring that children in detention and probation are treated in a manner which protects their rights and supports them in re-entering society.