EU and UNICEF kick off support to make the justice system child-friendly
8 October 2010, Skopje: Ambassador Erwan Fouéré, Special Representative of the European Union (EU) and Head of the European Union Delegation, Mr. Mihajlo Manevski, Minister of Justice and Mr. Sheldon Yett, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative today kicked off a two year (2010-2012) project to support reform of justice system for children.
“Preventing and protecting children from being victimised and treated as criminals are the basic objectives of the reform and the Law on Juvenile Justice,” said Mr. Mihajlo Manevski, Minister of Justice. “To achieve this and the best interest of the child, authorities must apply principals of restorative justice and give priority to preventive, protection and educational measures – detention should always be a measure of last resort,” continued Manevski.
While the country’s legislative code and judicial system emphasizes restorative justice over punishment, the administration of the child justice system in the country is not fully consistent with the requirements laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.. Remaining challenges include the fact that professionals often lack the means and resources to fully implement the juvenile justice law and the lack of a national prevention programme.
“It is undisputable that the track-record of implementation [of law] is the real test for the appropriateness and efficiency of one country's legislative and institutional framework. And this is where this project tries to give the most substantial support,” said Ambassador Erwan Fouéré, Special Representative of the European Union (EU) and Head of the European Union Delegation,
With support from the EU and UNICEF, the project titled “Justice for Children” will help the Government reform the system to bring it in line with EU and international standards. Focusing on three pillars - improving the normative framework, capacity building, and prevention – the project will contribute to closing the gap between what is written in law and reality.
“The justice system for children not only needs to provide reintegration programmes for children in conflict with the law,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, Representative, United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF), “but programmes for those at risk also need to be in place. Outreach and prevention programmes need to be a key part of the system to ensure those at risk of becoming in contact with the law receive the support that they have a right to have,” continued Yett.
Contributing to the broader reform of the criminal justice system, the € 800,000 project is funded by the European Union (under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance) with an amount of €700,000 and co-funded with €100,000 and implemented by UNICEF.