Implementation of Child Centered Juvenile Justice Begun
Skopje, 24 June 2009: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy together with international and local partners marked today, the introduction of a comprehensive new juvenile justice law. The law, which comes to force on 1 July 2009, provides a solid base to create a, specialized juvenile justice system that has rehabilitation and social reintegration as primary aims. The new law brings the country’s juvenile justice system in line with European standards.
“The enactment of this law would not have been possible without the commitment, dedication and years of hard work by many within the Ministry of Justice and other governmental partners, within the academic community and within civil society. “said UNICEF Country Representative Mr. Sheldon Yett “Now what is necessary is to ensure that adequate financial and human resources are allocated for its implementation, and a special focus is placed on strengthening preventative services,” he added.
Since the reform of the juvenile justice system was first initiated in 2002, UNICEF has been supporting the Ministry of Justice and other partners in establishing a child focused judicial system. This included support to develop juvenile justice by-laws and regulations in line with international standards and consistent with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, as well as the strengthening community based support to parents with children in conflict with the law. UNICEF worked with the Institute for Social Activities to finalize standards for treatment of juveniles by the Centers for Social Work. Juvenile justice related issues are now an integral part of the curriculum of the Academy for Judges and Prosecutors, the Faculty for Public Safety and the Faculty of Law.
“The Ministry of Justice will continue strengthening the capacities of judges, public prosecutors, social workers and police employees because effective implementation of the Law requires staff that are specifically trained and are knowledgeable of children’s rights,” said the Minister of Justice Mihajlo Manevski.
“The Centers for Social Work will play crucial role in identification of children at risk and provision of preventive measures through strengthened social protection services,” said the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Dzeljal Bajrami.
According to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, States should promote the establishment of laws, procedures, authorities and institutions specifically applicable to children accused of violating the law. Among other measures, “Child friendly” judicial systems should protect children’s privacy in court proceedings, ensure that children are not detained with adult offenders and have staff that are specifically trained and are knowledgeable of children’s rights.