Less children will enter prisons thanks to the reform of the juvenile justice system in Georgia
The project to reform existing system of juvenile justice administration is being carried out by the Ministry of Justice with the support of the Dutch Government and UNICEFTBILISI. 25 March. 2007 – A three year partnership project, aimed at supporting the Government of Georgia in reforming the juvenile justice system, is being launched today. The project implemented by the Ministry of Justice is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and UNICEF. Its aim is to assist the government in the development of relevant policies, human resources and rehabilitative programmes for children in conflict with law.
“It is important to note that the new phase of the reforms in the Ministry of Justice is starting with reforming the juvenile justice system. I do hope that the project supporting the reform of the juvenile justice system will give us an opportunity to launch concerted and coordinated efforts for combating crime among juveniles. This means that with joint efforts we will be able to make our society healthier” – said Nicka Gvaramia, Minister of Justice of Georgia.
“Detention should be the last resort for children in conflict with law”, said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia.
“Detention should be the last resort for children in conflict with law”, said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “This is an opportunity 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 Justice is leading the process and we would like to express our gratitude for the fruitful collaboration and partnership”- Barberis added.
During the three years the project will work in several directions: building partnerships, developing policy and carrying out legal reform, enhancing institutional and human capacity and introducing rehabilitative programmes.
In particular, in partnership with the High School of Justice, basic trainings in juvenile justice for 120 criminal judges have started. Over the next years the trainings will also be conducted for lawyers, police and prosecutors on juvenile justice and on basic principles of interviewing children.
Within the framework of the juvenile justice system reform, rehabilitative schemes will be established in two cities, Batumi and Rustavi. It was decided that the first stage of the reform should focus on bolstering the probation service to provide more effective services for young people. The programme will lead towards developing diversion models so that, where appropriate, young people are not prosecuted for minor and less serious offences and, if prosecuted, are given a non-custodial sentence. This will ensure that children stay with their family, receive appropriate education and rehabilitation services.
A range of services for children, like Individual and group work with children at home; direct work with families at home; educational support if needed; psychological support services if needed; referral to other community services (e.g. vocational training) will be introduced within the framework of the project.
The assessment of juvenile justice system in Georgia carried out in 2006 revealed that there was an increase in the number of young people entering the criminal justice system. According to the statistics of the Supreme Court of Georgia, the number of convicted juveniles in 2007 was 1060, out of which 426 (40%) were imprisoned. There were 475 convicted juveniles in 2005, out of which 104 (22%) were imprisoned.
Besides, Children in conflict with law have limited opportunities to enjoy various preventive and community based rehabilitation programmes.