UNICEF and partners are taking stock of Justice for Children reform

Justice for children professionals discussed progress in the justice for children reform and future steps

20 October 2022
UNICEF Rep DiGiovanni giving opening remarks at the event for Justice for children
UNICEF/North Macedonia/Georgiev/2022

Skopje, 20 October 2022: Professionals working with children in contact with the law came together with representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, Delegation of the European Union, United Nations Children’s Fund and youth to take stock of progress in the justice for children reform and define the areas that need additional attention.

In recent years, significant efforts were invested in North Macedonia to build a system based on a restorative approach to justice focusing on the best interest of the child.

More recently, supported by the European Union and UNICEF, the country has made progress in aligning the justice for children related legislation with international norms and developing the capacity of professionals in the justice for children system. In addition, the country is introducing trauma informed concept for the professionals in the justice system and is working on innovative preventive programmes and solutions, by ensuring child participation throughout the processes.

“As a society, we must not overlook the fact that these children have experienced serious stress and trauma that have far-reaching consequences. In such situations, it is especially important to work on preventing any form of secondary victimization and retraumatization,” said the Minister of Justice Nikola Tupancheski.

“Any child could potentially come into contact with the justice system. Many more children are in contact with child protection systems. When any of this happens, we must ensure that that contact respects their rights and dignity. And that decisions and judgments are rights-based, compassionate, and clear,” said Julian Vassalo, Deputy Head of EU Delegation.

“We must jointly and continuously work on ensuring children benefit from a fair justice system suited to their needs and access justice when their rights are violated, or their entitlements denied,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative. “Only by ensuring holistic approach and commitment from all sectors, including those that are not directly linked to justice for children such as health and education, we can make the change. In this way, we can ensure every child has an opportunity to reach their full potential.”

At the Panel Discussion the Minister of Justice Nikola Tupancheski and the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Jovana Trenchevska reviewed the progress made and discussed future of cross-sectoral action on justice for children.

“The role of the Centers for Social Work and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is crucial in detecting families at risk and protecting children.  Resocialization and reintegration are the best ways to help children retake the right path, “said the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Jovana Trenevska.

The Minister of Interior Oliver Spasovski joined the panel discussion with a video message. 

Sixty child advocates participated in design thinking workshops to develop creative solutions to challenges children face when they encounter the justice system and presented their solutions at today’s event. They focus on raising awareness on the right to education for children in contact with the law; introducing peer mediation in the education system; establishing student school clubs; enabling all children to have information about the services offered in one place and using forum theatre to raise the awareness on bullying.

The event is part of the two-year initiative “Just(ice) children – EU for juvenile and child-friendly justice” funded by the delegation of European Union and co-funded by UNICEF will support Government reform efforts to ensure the justice system protects the rights of children who come in contact with the law.

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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.mk.

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