“JUSTICE FOR CHILDREN” INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE HELD IN BAKU
“Justice for Children. Legislative Frameworks and Keys to Implementation”, an international conference on juvenile justice, organized jointly by the Parliament of Azerbaijan, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation started on November 16, 2009 in Baku.
The 2-days conference celebrating Year of the Child in the country and 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, brought together high-level governmental officials and MPs from the CEE/CIS region, as well as international and local experts on justice.
A number of key governmental officials and international experts on juvenile justice are taking part at the conference as guest-speakers, including Dr. Jacob Doek, former chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and Séverine Jacomy-Vité, Child Protection Specialist from UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS.
The conference was opened by Bahar Muradova, Deputy Chair of the Azerbaijan Parliament and Mark Hereward, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan.
“It is our hope that all the efforts on juvenile justice reform will pick up pace in Azerbaijan. The combined efforts by police, the courts, local and international NGOs is starting to have an impact in the country… There is a growing realization that depriving children of their liberty is often unnecessary or even counter-productive,” said Bahar Muradova, Deputy Chair of the Azerbaijan Parliament.
“From the moment of arrest, children are often treated just like adults. They face the same judges and police in the same courts. Their education is abandoned during what can be lengthy periods of remand,” said Mark Hereward, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan in his opening remarks.
“There are few state provisions to take account of the vulnerability or special needs of children, and those that do exist are not implemented. It can be a frightening and brutalising experience. It can also be the first of many such experiences: once children are sucked into the system, there are almost no services to get them back into their schools and communities. Once branded a criminal as a child, it is hard not to become one as an adult,” he said.