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UNICEF and IDLO launch study into child justice system in the MENA region

Amman, Jordan, 27 October 2014- UNICEF and the International Development Law Association (IDLO) have launched a seven month study to look at alternative methods of detention and punishment for children who come into conflict with the law.

The UNICEF-IDLO project aims at gaining a deeper understanding of the factors that support or inhibit alternative legal procedures for children, with the final aim to strengthen and support more child-friendly justice systems in Jordan, Sudan, and Tunisia.

The project is in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child should only be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.

The study will contribute to research and policy on justice for children through consultation and engagement with organizations and individuals working with children and the juvenile justice system.

“For example, when a child is arrested, is it in their best interest to be held in jail before a hearing, or should they be handed over to the care of their parents,” says Laurent Chapuis, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist. “And at sentencing, would community service or a treatment center be a better option than a jail term? These are the issues we’ll be looking at.”

Based on local needs and in conformity with international standards, the study will propose policy and programming recommendations on diversion and alternative measures to detention in the countries of focus. Specifically, the research will:

  • provide a comprehensive analysis of the key issues around responses to children in formal conflict with the law and the use of diversion and alternative measures to detention;
  • provide greater insight into local realities, concerns and approaches to juvenile justice and the use of diversion and alternative measures to detention; and 
  • facilitate the identification of appropriate, sustainable and effective entry points for programming, and good practice benchmarks.

Research Methodology: The IDLO research team for this project is composed of national researchers in each of the focal countries, a regional Senior Lead Researcher and a supporting Expert on Juvenile Justice. Research findings, obtained through a literature review, key informant interviews and case studies, will be featured in an IDLO-UNICEF report providing an overview on diversion measures and alternative measures to detention and identifying practical recommendations for further action.

Project Contacts:

  • Dr. Ilaria Bottigliero and Pamela Kovacs, IDLO 
  • Laurent Chapuis UNICEF MENARO, 
  • Sanja Saranovic, UNICEF MENARO,



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