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Roundtable on Justice for Children

The Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees  BiH on 28.6. 2011. hosted the roundtable on „Recent developments in the juvenile justice sector at international and local levels“. The roundtable is part of the Programme on the “Protection of Children at Risk and Children in Contact with the Justice System in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. Under this initiative, UNICEF has been collaborating with relevant Government institutions and agencies, with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The goal of the Programme is to strengthen the system of justice for children in BiH, in line with international standards.

The event was organized for local and international experts and professionals working in the juvenile justice sector to present the latest trends in the area of justice for children, and to exchange experiences. The importance of data, alternatives to detention, and the reintegration of chilren was stressed by several speakers.

This technical discussion builds on an earlier event of 9 June 2011, when a Communication Campaign on “Justice for every child” was launched, along with a report on the juvenile justice situation in BiH. “Justice for every child means in short three “Ps: Protect, Provide and Participate. We have to protect our children from violence, abuse and neglect. We have to provide access to health, social welfare and education. Children need to be able to participate in all matters which concern them. Of course, Switzerland, Sweden and UNICEF can only help to share their experiences and provide support. It is up to Bosnia and Herzegovina to decide and to put into action what is best for the country and – above all – for its children.  Other countries do it and are successful – Bosnia and Herzegovina can do it as well.” -  stressed Andre Schaller, Ambassador of Switzerland in  BiH.

„The reform of the juvenile justice system is one of the requirements to ensure a proper implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a set of globally accepted rules which include the equal treatment of children without discrimination, the right to live and develop in a healthy manner, the right to be heard in all matters affecting him or her - in short – to always secure the best interests of the child.” – stated Bosse Hedberg, Ambassador of Sweden in BiH.

“UNICEF together with SDC and SIDA, is supporting the country in order to align systems of justice for children with international standards. This includes promoting prevention from any form of violence, prioritizing alternatives to detention, except in cases when the juvenile offender  represents a risk for others, and supporting reintegration programmes. This requires further efforts and intensive cross-sectoral cooperation.” said Florence Bauer, UNICEF Representative in BiH."

Participants in today's round table discusssion included Mrs Minka Smajevic and Ms Milena Jurić from the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees BiH, Mr Nenad Mirkonj from the Ministry of Justice of Republika Srpska, Mr Ljubo Lepir from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of RS, Mr Miralem Duranović from the Ministry of Justice of the Federation BiH,  Ms Jasna Pećanac from the  FBIH Prosecutor's Office, Mr Dragan Uletilović from the Municipal Court Banja Luka  and Mrs Senka Blagojević from Brcko District Government.
Representatives from donor agencies included the Advisor in the Embassy of Sweden in BiH Mr  Anders Hedlund, the Country Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)  Mr Thomas Rüegg, and the UNICEF Deputy Representative Mrs Anne-Claire Dufay. International practices were presented by Mrs Anne Grandjean, Child Protection Expert from the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS and  Mr Sorin Hanganu, Child Protection Specialist from UNICEF Moldova. 
„According to the latest developments, justice for children covers all children who are in contact with justice systems (e.g. criminal-civil, formal-informal). Beyond juvenile justice, which refers to children in conflict with the law, it is also important to pay attention to child victims and witnesses of crimes and to fulfil their rights in justice processes“ said Anne Grandjean, from the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE-CIS.   





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