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Rustavi, 31 October 2018: The Minister of Justice and representatives of the EU and UNICEF launched a campaign today celebrating the success of their co-operation on juvenile justice reforms in Georgia since 2010. The week-long media campaign will highlight two key achievements:
These achievements must be seen in the perspective of the adoption of a modern Juvenile Justice code in Georgia in 2015.
Speaking at the event, H.E. Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, said: "Since 2010, the EU has been working closely together with the Government of Georgia in reforming its justice system and an important part of this has been to meet the needs of juveniles. We are extremely happy that by today, through this support, over 3000 children and young offenders have atoned for their crimes through an approach based on rehabilitation rather than punishment only. Moreover, through our joint efforts, all children will be better treated in any interaction with the justice system, whether as victim, offender or witness."
Dr. Ghassan Khalili, UNICEF Representative in Georgia, said that “the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Code was a tangible achievement in bringing the juvenile justice system closer to international standards. As a result, up to 3000 young people were provided with a new chance in life and could better understand the circumstances, which contributed to the crime. UNICEF has been partnering with the Government and EU to implement the juvenile justice reform which includes specialisation of all professionals working with children, creation of a child-friendly environment in all appropriate agencies and strengthening child rights monitoring and quality assurance mechanisms. We are committed to continue this partnership and give more young people a second chance in life.”
3000 kids back on track
A key component of the new approach to juvenile justice is the diversion and mediation programme, which represents an alternative approach to criminal prosecution. Due to the reform, it has become possible to divert a child from the justice system via such alternative ways as community works or educational activities in case of the mild crimes.
As a result, fewer children now have the criminal record on their personal files and more children are able to benefit from the rehabilitation and educational programs. All this means a better chance for the future. Since 2010, over 3000 young offenders aged 16-21 have benefitted from these programmes in Georgia.
Social workers working in the probation bureaus help young children in determining diversion conditions. Upon completing agreed conditions, child's case is completely closed.
Creation of Child Friendly Spaces
Representatives of the Ministry, EU and UNICEF also opened a newly furnished child-friendly room at the Rustavi City Court. Child-friendly environments, in a narrow sense, involve a creation of a physical environment that enables an interview to be conducted in a space that is friendlier for children. Through this process, child-based procedures and methods are used.
The child-friendly environment serves on one hand as a protection of the best interests of a child, specifically making sure that during the proceedings any further child abuse cases does not occur. At the same time, the environment adapted to the child serves the interests of justice as well, because the information obtained by a specialised professional in a child-friendly methodology is more reliable.
About Juvenile Justice Reforms in Georgia
The Ministry of Justice with EU support has undertaken considerable reforms in juvenile justice in Georgia since 2010, with the goal to establish a modern juvenile justice system that would serve for the best interests of children, decrease the number of crimes, create safer places for them and help juveniles to get back on track through social programmes for a chance to a better life.
The reforms focused on expansion and effective management of diversion and mediation programmes for juvenile offenders, improvement of environment and treatment condition in pre-trial detention for juveniles, establishing of monitoring systems to ensure better realization of children’s rights and specialization of professionals working with the juveniles.
As part of the reforms, the EU together with UNICEF supported Georgia in developing the new Juvenile Justice Code, which came into force in 2016. It introduced a new, child-friendly approach for juveniles in the criminal justice system including children in conflict with the law as well as child victims and witnesses of crime. The Code has further increased the use and quality of the diversion programme, which from then on extended to all categories of serious and less serious crimes. Diversion and mediation extended also to young offenders (persons of age 18-21).
Achievements of Juvenile Justice Reforms during 2010-2018:
The reforms of the juvenile justice system have been one of the biggest success stories of EU- Georgia cooperation in the justice sector in recent years. The EU continues to support the juvenile justice reforms in cooperation with UNICEF, as well as through different projects with the ministries of justice, corrections, internal affairs, prosecutors, police, lawyers, legal aid providers, social workers and NGOs.
About the #kidsbackontrack campaign
In order to highlight the achievements made to the Juvenile Justice System in Georgia a public awareness campaign will roll out in the course of November through 9 TV slots and a Social Media campaign.
Information for media
All materials, including 3 Fact sheets providing information about the Juvenile Justice system in Georgia, diversion & mediation programmes and child-friendly environment, as well a ‘success story’ can be found here:
Delegation of the European Union to Georgia
Tamriko Mikadze, Press and Information Officer
Mob.599 533 031
Ministry of Justice
Mob: 577 218 989
Tamar Shavdia, Governance campaign coordinator
Mob: 577 991 991
Maia Kurtsikidze, Communications Officer
Mob: 599 533 071