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UNICEF Regional Director calls for holistic approach to justice for children

CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA, 26 July 2007 - Justice for children is one of the areas that still needs to be fully addressed by Caribbean countries, said Nils Kastberg, UNICEF's Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Kastberg called for a holistic approach in the area of justice for children.

“Our first line of action must be prevention,” he said. “We must prevent potentially vulnerable children from getting involved in anti-social activities, and likewise we need to prevent the abuse and exploitation of children and minimize their witnessing of crime, be it in domestic violence situations or in the wider society,” he added.

Kastberg said that the approach to justice for children must encompass prevention, protection, rehabilitation and reintegration of children entering into contact with the justice system. He also noted that it should not only look at offenders but should also consider issues of concern to child witnesses, as well as child victims of crime.

Kastberg also took the opportunity to urged the OECS Secretariat to speed up the process of legal reform of family laws under the OECS Legal and Judicial Reform Project

Our Eastern Caribbean children “have been waiting too long to have existing [legal] provisions in line with international standards,” he said.

His comments came during the opening ceremony of the Seminar on Justice for Children being held today in St. Lucia. This seminar has been organized by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, in collaboration with the UNICEF Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean

The seminar which will last for three days will review international trends in justice for children, assess the status of Justice for Children in the Eastern Caribbean and examine current issues and innovative practices in managing children who are victims or witnesses of crime and alternative approaches to current models of youth justice.

Other collaborating partners on this initiative are the OECS Secretariat, the Austrian High Commission, the British High Commission,  the International Association for Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates and the International Institute for the Rights of the Child.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Niloufar Pourzand, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Tel (246) 2539045, npourzand@unicef.org

Heather Stewart, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Office for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean, Tel. (246) 2302623, hstewart@unicef.org

Lisa McClean-Trotman, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Office for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean, Tel: 246 2302642, lmccleantrotman@unicef.org




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