Justice for every child
By joining the regional initiative "Equitable Access to Justice for Children", Montenegro will continue to empower both children and families
PODGORICA, 24 April 2019 - By joining the regional initiative "Equitable Access to Justice for Children", Montenegro will continue to empower both children and families – especially the most disadvantaged ones – to turn to the justice system and seek redress in cases of violations of their rights.
This was the joint conclusion of the representatives of the Government of Montenegro, UNICEF, EU and Montenegrin judicial authorities, which launched a two-year initiative to be implemented in Montenegro and Albania, with the technical support of UNICEF and financial assistance from the Government of the Kingdom of Norway.
I am very pleased to launch the regional initiative ‘Equitable Access to Justice for Children in the Western Balkan Countries’, which represents a valuable contribution to the reforms we are implementing in Montenegro to ensure that our judiciary always takes care of the best interests of children in all proceedings concerning them.
Pažin said that the degree to which a society is managing to realize the ideals of justice and equity can best be measured by the degree of care for those who need protection the most.
"During the past decade, in cooperation with all the relevant state institutions, the Ministry of Justice has been carrying out a comprehensive reform of the juvenile justice system, which has produced good results and has turned Montenegro into a role model for the countries of this region. We owe particular gratitude to our partners from UNICEF and the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro for their support for these efforts and the serious results that have been achieved," said Pažin.
UNICEF’s Representative to Montenegro, Osama Khogali, said that UNICEF’s research shows that the judicial system was least accessible to those who needed it most – children with disabilities, minority groups, victims of violence, children without parental care, children who still face the prospect of detainment, children refugees and migrants.
I firmly believe that the significant results that Montenegro has made in the field of juvenile justice can serve as an example of how the entire judicial system can be improved for all children who come into contact with the law, including those who are victims and witnesses of criminal offences, as well as for children whose other fundamental rights are endangered or violated.
He reminded that since 2000, in almost all the countries and territories of Europe and Central Asia, the total number of detained children (before or after trial) has decreased by 60 percent, thanks to the commitments of the governments of these countries to establish alternatives to the detainment of children, including the introduction of alternative measures.
The President of the Supreme Court of Montenegro, Vesna Medenica, emphasized that the Supreme Court has been doing everything in its power to improve the concept of the protection of the rights of the child, including the development of adequate child-friendly spaces in Montenegrin courts of law for children who are in conflict with the law and for children who come into contact with the law.
Therefore, we should be removing all barriers to children's access to justice and should be adapting our professional conduct to make it child-friendly. Judges, state prosecutors, defence attorneys, police officers and social workers must listen to children, because they have a right to express their opinion and feel safe, comfortable and respected.
Supreme State Prosecutor, Ivica Stanković, believes that the Supreme State Prosecutor's Office is putting a special focus on the application of relevant regulations that contribute to the circumstances in which children can enjoy equitable access to justice.
By accepting and developing the modern concept of children's access to justice, we are keeping our legal order in line with the standards of modern democracies.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, emphasized that this area was of particular importance for Montenegro in the light of its accession to the European Union.
It is a pleasure for us to be the first partner and donor to Montenegro in the reform of its justice system. The European Union will continue to support Montenegro in improving the rights of the child.
The regional initiative "Equitable Access to Justice for Children in the Western Balkans" represents a continuation of an intensive decade-long reform process aimed at improving the rights of children in contact with the law, that has been implemented by the Ministry of Justice with the support of UNICEF and the EU, and in cooperation with judicial bodies, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and other partners for more than a decade.
Thirty years after the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, creating a child-friendly judiciary remains a priority for countries around the world, since the realization of the Convention depends on access to justice for every child.