2014 Tajikistan: Juvenile Justice Alternative Project. Evaluation report
Author: Dan O’Donnell, Galina Derevenchenko, Gulnora Gulmirzoeva
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The first report of Tajikistan on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was examined by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2000. The Committee expressed concern “at the poor quality of the administration of justice for juvenile offenders and the lack of a juvenile justice system” and recommended that the government take all measures “to fully integrate into its legislation and practice the provisions of the Convention, in particular articles 37, 40 and 39, as well as other relevant international standards”, with the assistance of UNICEF and other competent UN agencies.
The Committee’s comment and recommendation triggered a process of juvenile justice reform. In 2001, an inter-ministerial Commission on Child Rights was established. In 2003 the Commission established an Expert Group on Juvenile Justice, which prepared a report containing some 50 recommendations. The report was prepared with technical assistance of the Children’s Legal Centre, UK, which also prepared a proposal to create a community-based diversion centre. The first such centre, operated by the NGO Nasli Navras, was opened in 2004 in Sino District, with UNICEF support. A second centre also was opened in Firdavsi District, Dushanbe.
In 2008, an assessment of the community-based centres was carried out. It concluded that they provided quality services to children and their families, that less than 3% of the children referred to the centres had “reoffended”, and that offending in the districts of Dushanbe where the centres were functioning fell 42% from 2006 to 2007.
In October 2009, the Government adopted a National Plan of Action on Juvenile Justice (“NPA”) for the period 2010-2015.
In 2010, UNICEF received a USD 2.2 million, four-year grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for a project on juvenile justice.
This is the final evaluation of implementation of the Juvenile Justice Alternative Project, financed by grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The main purpose of the Evaluation is to comply with UNICEF’s contractual obligation to the donor. The evaluation also makes recommendations to UNICEF as to what should be done to follow-up on the project’s achievements, and analyses the reasons why some goals were not met. Other objectives were to document the positive results of the project as well as the objectives that were not met, and assess to what extent the reasons some objectives were not met or only partially met (e.g. flaws in the project design, poor management by UNICEF, insufficient cooperation by counterparts, or unanticipated external factors). To this end, the Report addresses 23 Evaluation Questions concerning the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of the project. The objectives also included making recommendations to UNICEF as to what if anything should be done to consolidate the achievements of the project, whether and under what conditions support for specific project activities should continue, and whether UNICEF should take advantage of the experience gained and work done during the project to address other issues related to justice for children.
The Evaluation Report was written for the donor and the UNICEF Country Office. The government has expressed interest in the conclusions of the report, and the UNICEF Country Office, once it has decided which conclusions and recommendations it shares, will decide to how use them in negotiations regarding UNICEF’s future work on juvenile justice and access to justice in Tajikistan.
The evaluation is based on:
- project documents
- a mission by the head of the Team and national expert 6 to 20 Oct.
- a survey of children and their parents or caretakers Oct. to Nov.
- a questionnaire designed to assess the impact of training carried out in the framework of the project
The persons interviewed during the mission include representatives of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UNICEF staff, and representatives of most of the main governmental counterparts, including the Ministries of Education, Justice and the Interior, the Council of Justice, the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Ombudsman. Since the post of Deputy Chair of the Commission on Child Rights was vacant, the Evaluation Team interviewed, and at the end of the mission debriefed, the Head of the Legal Department of the Presidency.
The survey conducted as part of this Evaluation was similar to that carried out as part of the Mid-Term Evaluation. The main difference is that, while the 2011 survey was used only to obtain information about the experiences and views of children who had benefitted from the community-based prevention centres (and their parents), the 2014 survey covered three additional groups: students having been placed in the Special School, former prisoners of the juvenile prison colony, and children having been registered with the prevention police. It also covered children having attended two different community-based centres: the centre in Khujand and the new centre in Dushanbe. The main purpose of this survey was to compare the impact of these different experiences on attitudes and values related to the risk of offending and re-offending. The plan was to obtain information from 10 children from each of the 5 groups mentioned above, with a balance as to age, sex and reason for referral (offending or anti-social behaviour). Participation in the survey was voluntary, and the identity of the respondents is confidential.
Findings and Conclusions:
Efforts to develop preventive activities in the CAEs met with many difficulties. Four of the six CAE-based centres operating in 2013 had caseloads of less than one child per month. This situation seems to be improving, however: in 2014, the average caseload of the Centres open increased from 10 to 14 per year.
The kind of preventive activities being provided is narrower than those envisaged by the project design. The approach is not interdisciplinary, except to the extent that it involves some social work in addition to education. The social workers available are not qualified to assist children with behavioural disorders related to offending. There are no plans to provide psychological assessments, individual, group or family counseling, or victim-offender mediation. Integrating social work into the services provided by the CAEs is a positive development, but not one that will facilitate the diversion of offenders having more serious needs.
The Khujand centre is the only one that offers the range of preventive activities envisaged by the project design, for children at risk of offending and for offenders. This appears to be because the centre was not placed in a CAE. The evaluation team made an effort to discover whether there are special factors that made this approach feasible in Khujand, but not in other municipalities or region. Some sources spoke of cultural or social differences that explain the commitment of public officials in Sughd province to serving the needs of the public. The commitment and persistence of the director of the centre, and the supporting role of experienced NGO staff in the development of the center, also have been mentioned. The increase in offending that followed the closure of the NGO project for street children, some months before the opening of the new centre in Khujand, may have contributed to the willingness of the local government to support it.
- Some of the project’s achievements have positive benefits for children that go beyond juvenile justice. The training of judges and appointment of particular judges to handle all cases involving children, for example, has benefits for children who are victims of crime and children involved in cases involving family law. The child-friendly facilities established in four courts also benefits child victims.
- UNICEF should continue to advocate for and support the improvement of collection and management of data concerning juvenile justice, child victims of crime and other issues concerning children’s access to justice.
- An effort should be made, by UNICEF and its partners, to preserve the positive results of the investments the project made in community-based prevention, and consideration should be given to seeking funds to support a more balanced approach to prevention including:
- support for centre-based prevention on the Khujand model in cities or districts having the highest rate of offending, if the local authorities show serious interest in the prevention of offending;
- support for development of the capacity of Child Rights Units and Departments to assist children at risk and to support the social reintegration of juvenile offenders given alternative sentences or measures or returning to the community after confinement in a closed facility; and
- support for the addition of social work services to the services presently provided by CAEs, if the Ministry of Education takes the measures necessary to remove administrative obstacles to this initiative and ensure transparency and accountability.
- UNICEF should undertake and support advocacy on the need to make schools more child-friendly, in particular by eliminating practices that discriminate against students who are poor, disadvantaged or have learning or behavioural problems, and should support training and policy development if advocacy is successful. [High priority]
1. Data on the caseload of community-based prevention centres is incomplete and unreliable. This is due to the failure of both governmental agencies responsible for monitoring and coordinating to fulfil their responsibilities, and makes it impossible to properly evaluate this important component of the project. There is an important lesson to be learned from this experience.
2. The services provided by community-based centres for prevention of offending and re-offending were beneficial for children who received them. In the second largest city of Tajikistan, the centres contributed to a decrease in offending. This is a good practice.
3. The project did not reduce offending by juveniles on the national level, did not reduce the number of juveniles detained before trial, and did not reduce the number of prisoners in the juvenile prison colony or the number of children in the special school. Analysis of the reasons would require data not presently available, which limits the lessons that can be drawn.
4. The number of community-based centres opened was far fewer than the number planned, and several of those opened were later closed. The reasons that contributed to this include:
- flaws in the project design
- failure to amend the relevant legislation
- ignorance or disinterest on the part of judges and prosecutors
- poor motivation on the part of staff of some of the centres
- neglect of responsibility to coordinate and monitor by the Commission on Child Rights and Ministry of Education
There are important lessons to be learned from this experience.
"Report" - Evaluation Report
"Part 2" - Appendices
"Part 3" - Appendix 8 Logframe 2010
"Part 4" - Appendix 9 Logframe 2012-2014
"Part 5" - GEROS
Full report in PDF
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