30 May, 2018. Rustavi, Georgia. A child-friendly interview room, refurbished and equipped with appropriate technical equipment, has been opened at the Rustavi Prosecutor’s Office and is an important achievement in building a child-friendly justice system in Georgia. The room is a pilot of the child-friendly environment concept which aims to create special areas in justice facilities that will consider children’s specific needs and facilitate child participation, ensure privacy, and prevent re-victimization. Similar spaces are also being developed for the Police, Legal Aid Service and Courts in Rustavi.
The child-friendly environment concept was created by UNICEF with the support of the European Union for the project "Improving Access to Justice and Developing a Child-friendly Justice System in Georgia". This project forms part of the reforms to the juvenile justice system implemented by the Government of Georgia with the support of UNICEF and the European Union.
“A child involved in the justice system should feel safe at any stage of justice proceedings,” said Laila O. Gad, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “The environment should be contributing to the fully-fledged participationof a child and the realization of his/her rights.Creation of child-friendly interview rooms should be combined with the designation of a specialized team to work on that location, developing detailed guidelines for professionals, putting into practice child-sensitive interviewing procedures, strengthening coordination and expanding rehabilitation services for child victims. A child-friendly approach by professionals is far more important than nice-looking architecture and settings. The former can outweigh the latter – but not vice versa,” added Laila O. Gad.
The guarantees enshrined in the Juvenile Justice Code are not always implemented in practice due to the absence of child-friendly environments. In particular, justice agencies do not provide adequate spaces for interviewing children or for confidential meetings of a child with their lawyer. To address the situation, it was agreed to pilot child-friendly interview-rooms for the Police, Prosecutor’s Office, Legal Aid service and Courts in Rustavi, and to introduce child-sensitive interviewing procedures by specially trained staff throughout the entire chain of the justice process.
The project, supported by the European Union, promotes Juvenile Justice System Reform and protects the interests of children in conflict with the law and children participating in civil and administrative violations proceedings.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.