European Union and UNICEF join efforts to strengthen Juvenile Referral Centre in Georgia

The juvenile referral mechanism aims to support children below the minimum age of criminal responsibility and children with difficult behaviour

14 March 2022
Diverted juvenile speaks with a social worker
UNICEF/Geo-2018/Blagonravova
Irakli talking with his social worker, Natia Aliashvili, at the Tbilisi Mediation House.

TBILISI, Georgia, 14 March 2022. Children below the minimum age of criminal responsibility and children with “difficult behaviour” will benefit from the enhanced Juvenile Referral Centre as a result of a new initiative funded by the European Union and implemented by UNICEF in partnership with a local organization called Prevention for Progress. The initiative will strengthen the Juvenile Referral Centre in terms of its human capacity, working instruments, coordination mechanisms and quality assurance systems.

The project will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the referral system and identify gaps that need to be addressed to strengthen the referral mechanism and to expand the scope and quality of services for the beneficiaries of the juvenile referral centre. In addition, a working methodology and instruments will be developed, relevant professionals will be trained, cooperation between different agencies will be strengthened and a referral case management system and procedures will be elaborated.

The Centre is responsible for coordinating existing services for children and cooperates with different agencies authorized to refer cases to the Centre, such as Ministry of Internal Affairs; Prosecution Service of Georgia; Special Penitentiary Service; Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories; Labour, Health and Social Affairs; and the Ministry of Education and Science. Currently, special services for children below the minimum age of criminal responsibility are limited. The Centre is also expected to create a database of existing services, develop a concept on services needed for the effectiveness of the referral system and support the creation of new services.

A Juvenile Referral Centre was established in early 2020 under the National Agency for Crime Prevention, Execution of Non-Custodial Sentences and Probation. The Centre is authorized to consider cases of children under the minimum age of criminal responsibility committing illegal acts and exhibiting “difficult behaviour”, assess their needs and refer them to rehabilitation services. 

Despite the progress achieved in reforming the juvenile justice system over the last decade, with the support of EU and UNICEF, prevention of juvenile crime remains problematic. The Ministry of Internal Affairs statistics indicate increased crime rates among children below the minimum age of criminal responsibility, which raises concerns about crime prevention mechanisms and capacities. 

The three-year project ‘Strengthening Systems and Services for Child Protection in Georgia’ is funded by the European Union. It aims to strengthen legislation, policies and guidelines that support the de-institutionalization process and to enhance the capacity of the professional workforce at central and municipal levels to support and protect children and families in Georgia.

Media contacts

Maya Kurtsikidze
Communication Specialist, Head of Communication Section
UNICEF Georgia

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