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EU - UNICEF to support juvenile justice reforms in 8 countries

GENEVA, 11 April, 2011 - The European Union and UNICEF will strengthen juvenile justice systems against torture and ill-treatment of children by allocating € 1.5 million to further support reforms in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Tajikistan over the next three years, the two organizations announced today.

The countries were selected after in-depth assessments and commitments from the governments and civil society to bring their juvenile justice systems in line with international standards and support juvenile’s reintegration into society as law-abiding and full-fledge citizens.

"The Commission supports this project through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, as it proposes innovative prevention combined with rehabilitation and multiplier effects. Protecting the rights and integrity of those young girls and boys is important, despite the suspicion, accusation, or recognition affecting them for infringing the law", said Aristotelis Bouratsis, Director of Thematic Operations at the European Commission Director General Development and Cooperation.

“Children in detention are at high risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse which can harmfully impact their physical or psychological development,” said Steven Allen, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “Alternative measures to detention such as diversion and non-custodial measures should enable a child to adequately reintegrate into a community and have a meaningful social life.”

A number of countries have taken positive reforms to address juvenile justice issues. Juvenile judges have been appointed in Armenia and Ukraine while Kazakhstan is developing fully-fledged juvenile justice courts and promotes rehabilitation over punitive approaches. Some new laws are being passed and efforts are in place to enable better legal aid in Georgia and Azerbaijan, mediation (Kazakhstan, training judges, prosecutors, attorneys and  developing alternatives to deprivation of liberty (for example in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and Moldova).

This cooperation will further consolidate these systemic changes and address the gaps such as enforcing the newly adopted laws and limiting the duration of pre-trial detention. It will also help to ensure that solitary confinement, torture and ill treatment in police custody will no longer be imposed on children. Children in contact with the law will also take part in a short video film making workshop. These one-minute clips amplify children`s voices at key advocacy events and help raise awareness among the public and policy makers.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Aristotelis Bouratsis
European Commission, Director DEVCO F – Thematic Operations
B-1049 Brussels. +32 2 2999244

Ms.  Martha Méndez, European Commission, DEVCO F2 – European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights
B-1049 Brussels. + 32 2 296 99 97 

John Budd, CEE CIS Regional Communication Chief, +41 22 909 5429
or Lely Djuhari, Communication Specialist +41 909 5433 or via email at



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