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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2017 BandH: Final Evaluation of the Justice for Every Child Project, December 2013-November 2017, Bosnia and Herzegovina



Author: Kara Apland, Professor Carolyn Hamilton

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 3’.

Background

UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has been working to promote children’s rights within the justice system since 2010, supported by the Swiss Government and Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). The development of the Justice for Every Child Project came at an opportune time, as the child justice system in BiH underwent important reforms in both law and practice: the adoption of the Law on Protection and Treatment of Children and Juveniles in Criminal Proceedings (2010 in Republika Srpska (RS), 1011 in Brcko District (BD) and 2014 in the Federation (FBiH)) created opportunities for UNICEF to strengthen the protection of children’s rights within the justice system, both for children accused of offending and children who were victims and witnesses of crime. The first phase of the Justice for Every Child Project (2010 – 2013) focused on supporting the implementation of the RS Law on Protection and Treatment of Children and Juveniles in Criminal Proceedings, and encouraging the adoption of the FBiH law. Phase two of the Project, implemented from 2013 - 2017, turned increased attention toward children who are victims/witnesses in criminal proceedings and children in civil proceedings, and strengthening secondary and tertiary prevention.

Purpose/Objective

This independent evaluation, commissioned by UNICEF BiH and conducted by Coram International, was undertaken to assess the second phase of UNICEF’s Justice for Every Child Project as the Project will come to a close in November 2017. This evaluation was designed to review and assess the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of Phase II of the Project, to identify lessons learned, and make strategic recommendations for future decision-making in the area of justice for children for both UNICEF and local stakeholders. The evaluation is intended for use by UNICEF and the Project staff, the Project Coordination Board, and donors. Results of the evaluation will also be shared with key stakeholders, including relevant entity, Cantonal, municipal and State governments, and other partners

Methodology

The evaluation design applied a mixed-methods approach in order to ensure that data was rich, with strong explanatory potential, whilst also being comprehensive, measurable and accurate. Evaluators engaged with a range of data sources in order to reflect on diverse Project Outputs and develop a strong understanding of the function of the child justice system as a whole. The evaluation reflected on relevant Project documents, including evaluations and reviews, and the Project logframe. Additionally, primary data was collected at national, entity and municipal levels: evaluators conducted 23 individual key informant interviews; 10 group interviews with key informants; 5 focus group discussions with working group members (including a control location, which was not Project location); and 2 interviews with children who had experiences within the justice system. An online survey was distributed to 221 working group members and 18 professionals in control locations. Finally, the evaluation drew upon national level data on the juvenile justice system. Strict ethical guidelines were followed at all stages of the data collection and analysis.

Findings and Conclusion

Evaluation findings indicate that the Justice for Every Child Project was not only relevant to the process of child justice reform; UNICEF played an essential role in instigating change. Whilst interviews with stakeholders revealed a consensus that reforms to the child justice system were needed, key stakeholders participating in the evaluation consistently attributed progress toward the implementation of the Laws on Protection and Treatment of Children and Juveniles to the Project, emphasising that without UNICEF’s leadership and interventions, implementation of the new legal framework would have progressed even more slowly, if at all.

UNICEF’s decision to focus on strengthening prevention services and providing victim support in the Project’s second phase was well made, addressing important gaps in the child justice system and creating conditions (including human, financial and institutional capacity and infrastructure) necessary to implement the Laws on Protection. Phase II objectives were particularly welcomed by stakeholders because they prioritise supporting the system to meet children’s direct needs.

UNICEF’s support for capacity building has contributed significantly to the child justice reform process, including through enabling the establishment of certified professionals within the justice sector. Evaluation findings indicate that professionals have been certified and, to a lesser extent, specialised departments have been created, in prosecutors’ offices, the police, the judiciary, and in some cases, centres for social work, across BiH, and particularly in Project locations. In addition to supporting the establishment of specialised departments, respondents reported that capacity building enabled them to engage with the practicalities of handling cases involving children and iron out any ambiguities in the black letter text, thereby facilitating practical implementation of the law.

Recommendations

Pursuing improved leadership in Justice for Children: Advocate for development of a strategy or action plan for the implementation of justice reform at entity level, which designates responsibility and sets out budget commitments.

Strengthening secondary and tertiary prevention: Provide continued support to Municipal Working Groups, including in new municipalities, drawing on good practice examples from current Project locations; Develop community based services to promote social inclusion, e.g. through creating volunteering, employment and social activities for youth; Develop and support a diversion pilot programme based at municipal level preferably in a community centre with activities to be implemented in areas with high offending rates; Support designation of specialised professionals in SWCs to work with children in conflict with the law and at-risk of offending and increase staffing; Establish a reintegration fund for children (and young adults) leaving institutions to support reintegration; Commission assessments of alternative measures.

Support to victims and witnesses of crimes, as well as children in civil proceedings: Advocate for the development of victim support services, including specialised psychosocial support services, and a victim and witness support scheme that provides continuous support throughout all stages of the case; Advocate to strengthen children’s right to (government provided) legal aid where they are involved in proceedings as a victim or witness.

Strengthen the capacity of the social welfare sector: Advocate for improved resourcing of CSWs; Develop their capacity to work with families through case-management and specialised services.
Develop a strategy promoting sustainability of justice for children reform: Conduct a sustainability (risk) assessment of the Project and develop a strategy for sustainability of all components.
A more detailed set of recommendations can be found at the end of this report.

Lessons Learned

1. Justice reform requires sustained political and financial commitment across relevant government departments. Reforms of this nature which involve a radical systemic change are likely to take about ten years to embed themselves and establish an institutional culture.

2. Secondary and tertiary prevention programmes must address underlying causes of offending and involve family focused work to address dysfunction. Effective prevention programmes will also encourage the use of diversion by practitioners and have ignificant multi-disciplinary working on individual cases. Existing community based alternatives for those who are being diverted are not adequate at the present time and need more assistance to become a reality.

3. Approaches to syste'ss reform should not only focus on establishing relevant services but on creating links between them. This approach to addressing individual cases, which was applied as part of the ‘Optidur’ model, has the potential to be both effective and efficient. To be effective, case planning relies on the allocation of sufficient human resources and the existence of relevant services.

4. Child participation in designing and evaluating all Project interventions is mandatory. Children’s views can provide important insights into the effectiveness and appropriateness of programmes to reduce and address offending.

5. Strong and specialised social welfare services must be in place at local level to implement child justice system reforms. Underlying child protection concerns have must be addressed.

6. Training and capacity building is most effective when participatory, practice-based & with multi-agency cooperation. Additional training is needed for increased used of alternative measures and diversion.

7. Where data collection is weak and unreliable this undermines the justice reform process. In order to monitor and determine the impacts of justice reform and effectiveness of measures, a strong evidence base is essential.

 



Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year:
2017

Country/Office:
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Region:
ECAR(CEE/CIS)

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Child Protection

Language:
English

Sequence number:
2017/001

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