Final conference on ‘Juvenile Justice System Reform’ Project
PODGORICA, April 28, 2010 - Key results of the "Juvenile Justice System Reform Project" implemented by the Government of Montenegro since October 2008 with help from UNICEF and financial support from the European Union worth 500.000 Euros have been presented today in Podgorica.
According to the Minister of Justice Miras Radovic, sanctions towards juveniles in conflict with the law should be based primarily on the principles of social integration, education and prevention of future criminal acts. "Alternative measures have primacy over classical criminal sanctions," Radovic said at the final conference of the Juvenile Justice System Reform Project.
Dr Suad Numanovic, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, stressed out that the establishment of a juvenile justice system is a long-term process in which all segments of the society have a significant role to play. "Realization of this project must include not only the representatives of state authorities, but also those representing local communities, non-governmental and private sector," said Numanovic.
Nicola Bertolini, Head of Operations in the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, pointed out to the EU’s appreciation of the commitment of Montenegrin authorities to promote and protect the rights of children in conflict with the law.
"This project supported capacity building of over 250 juvenile justice professionals with specific focus on increasing their awareness of the rights of children in conflict with law and of advisory family programmes for children and families in risk," Bertolini explained.
According to Noala Skinner, UNICEF Representative in Montenegro, the implementation of the Law and the operationalization of a separate juvenile justice system, the fuller use of alternative sanctions for juveniles and the strengthening of preventive mechanisms are important areas that require continued work and assistance.
"We have come a long way in a short period – only 18 months - and much has been achieved. The successful implementation of this project marked a leap forward for child rights in Montenegro," said Skinner.
The presentation included a video clip with short interviews with professionals trained within the project.
In the second part of the presentation of the project results, Snezana Mijuskovic, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, talked about the strengthening of cooperation between the judiciary and social welfare systems, which is a key precondition for preventing juvenile delinquency and for improving the treatment of children in conflict with the law.
A short video clip on the theatre play "On both right and wrong track" in which juveniles in conflict with a law performed based on their true life stories was also shown.
Juveniles who benefit from preventive and community-based rehabilitation programmes are more likely to: understand the causes and consequences of their behavior; accept responsibility for their actions; become aware of the impact of such behavior on others and comply with social norms. They are also less likely to reoffend. For that reason, strengthening of preventive work with children and families at risk and promoting educational measures instead of punitive ones for juveniles in conflict with the law represent key project results.
Adoption of the first ever Juvenile Justice Law, which fully integrates internationally recognized principles, together with capacity building for its successful implementation, strengthening of preventive work with children and families and promotion of community based alternatives to criminal prosecution and institutionalization of children, represent a milestone for Montenegro’s judiciary and social welfare system.
Story written by Momir Krivacevic