June 2007, Australia National Committee for UNICEF contributes US$100,000 to help reform the juvenile justice system in Kyrgyzstan
The work UNICEF in Kyrgyzstan to reform the juvenile justice system has received a welcome boost through financial support of US$100,000 from the Australia UNICEF National Committee.
UNICEF is striving to guide juvenile justice reform to ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Kyrgyz Code of Children and other international standards. These emphasize that the best interests of the child should prevail at all times and that custodial sentences should be seen as a measure of last resort.
The funds will go towards helping legislation and government policy reform, strengthening the knowledge of judiciary and law enforcement staff and the implementation of concrete new measures in one district in Bishkek.
The traditional way to administer justice to juveniles in conflict with the law will be changed to a restorative justice system with courts whose staff are trained to handle cases involving young people. The new system will give priority to non-custodial, community-based options including probation, community service, life-skills and vocational skills trainings.
The UNICEF Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tim Schaffter, is optimistic that the project may enlarge in the future. “It is the first step with the potential for a longer-term and expanding partnership,” said Schaffter.
The Australia National Committee for UNICEF supports Kyrgyzstan in other ways. A fundraising partnership means that 30 euro is donated to UNICEF every time a tour is booked with global travel company, Kumuka Worldwide. For tours to Europe a part of this donation is directed to UNICEF projects in Kyrgyzstan.
The issue of children held in detention has been a matter of concern for Kyrgyz politicians and civil society for some time. In 2006, with help from UNICEF, the President’s administration created a high-level working group on system reform. It was also one of the issues discussed by the Minister of Justice with the members of UNICEF Executive Board when they visited Kyrgyzstan in April this year.
During that visit H.E. Robert Hill, Vice President of UNICEF Executive Board, and representative of Australia, pointed out that although the Government and the civil society do a lot towards realization of children’s rights, Kyrgyzstan still needs international support, and UNICEF will continue to generate more funds to tackle the numerous urgent issues for children and women in the small, mountainous republic.