Skopje, 17 December 2018: Ms. Renata Deskovska, Minister of Justice, Mr. Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative, Mr. Ljubomir Mihajlovski, President of the Bar Association and Mr. Lazar Nanev, president of the NGO “Union for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency” today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance the knowledge and skills of lawyers dealing with children in contact with the law.
“With this Memorandum of Understanding, we confirm our readiness to fully respect the best interest of all children in contact with the law and to make sure they are protected throughout the process, especially children victims of violence, abuse and neglect, “ said Renata Deskoska, Minister of Justice.
Through the agreement that lawyers dealing with children in contact with the law will receive specialized training; linkage of coordination will be established across all involved institutions and unified data collection system, working cross sectoral will be established.
“When we look at the situation of children who come into contact with the law as victims, witnesses or perpetrators we must have in mind two key considerations. The first is to protect children from secondary victimization during the legal procedure because they are often already traumatized; and the second aspect that we are working on is to prevent life-cycle of crime of children in conflict with the law. Therefore, it is important that the justice system of the country is aligned with the international and EU standards on justice for children, and that it ensures the best interest of children is protected at any stage of the procedure,” said Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative.
According to the Law on justice for children lawyers working with children in contact with the law are obliged to attend at least five days specialized training on justice for children.
“Central to how we read and implement justice legislation must be provision of restorative justice and educational interventions, instead of placement of children in conflict with the law in institutions. Lawyers play an important role in making this happen, “said Ljubomir Mihajlovski, President of the Bar Association.
Each year around 1000 children come into contact with the justice system as suspects, offenders, witnesses and victims of violence and crime. Juvenile justice professionals from relevant institutions have benefited from comprehensive training and data collection has improved. However, there is an essential need of having specialized trained lawyers that know how to work with children not only in cases where children are perpetrators of crime, but also where children are victims and witnesses.
“The cooperation between UNICEF, the Ministry of Justice, the Bar Association and the Council for prevention of juvenile delinquency will ensure that no child is left without legal protection in the justice system. The legislation is there, we have manuals and standardized procedures providing a practical guide to strengthen the implementation of the Justice for Children Law, the Criminal Procedure Code and Civil Procedure Code, but the knowledge and skills of all professionals dealing with children, must be continuously upgraded”, said Lazar Nanev, Judge and president of the NGO “Union for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency”.
The report of the “Union for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency” shows that in 2017, some 1583 children have been called to the police station for various reasons. Out of them, 38% (or 596) children practiced the right to a defense attorney.
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.