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The ten-year reform has ensured that children in contact with the criminal justice system, including child victims and witnesses, are treated by the justice system in line with UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, European and International standards, while also focused on preventing children from coming into conflict with the law and providing relevant support services to children, and their families, who are victims or witnesses of crime. It helped also to strengthen the legal framework and services to ensure the proper treatment of different categories of children involved in different criminal justice procedures, as well as increased the accountability of relevant service providers and key justice institutions.
EU and UNICEF engagement in justice for children has evolved from a particular focus on juvenile justice for alleged offenders to the broader aspect of equitable access to justice for all children as part of the new Rule of Law agenda in Kosovo. This strategic shift was partly guided by the UNICEF approach to Justice for Children that contributes to ensure that children are better served and protected by justice systems.
Kosovo has developed a strong juvenile justice system with existing commitment to build a new equitable justice system, especially for the most vulnerable child victims and witnesses. The necessary laws, procedures, institutions, and capacities are now in place to protect children in accordance with the relevant legal international standards.
The Head of the EU Office/EU Special Representative, Nataliya Apostolova, said that through all these 10 years, EU and UNICEF have managed to reform the juvenile justice in Kosovo to ensure that children facing justice, are treated according to best European and International standards. "Bearing in mind some further work ahead, I encourage the Ministry of Justice to continue with the reform program in this field. The EU Office will remain one of the key partners in the Juvenile Justice sector in the coming years. The children should be always supported and should be given a chance to correct their behaviour for the better. This is the only way they will be able to build their future and be worthy part of Kosovo society," said Apostolova.
Head of UNICEF Kosovo Office, Mr. Brandão Có stated that: “Kosovo institutions need to continue supporting capacity building of local institutions to ensure a proper translation of the existing laws and policies into quality equitable services for children, adolescents and youth.” Further investments are needed in ensuring wider equitable access to justice for children to enable them seek and obtain fair, timely and effective remedy for violations of rights as put forth in the international, regional and national legal frameworks. Access to Justice is about enforcing all child rights – including education, health, social protection.
Present at the launch event were relevant central institutions and agencies, international diplomatic chorus and Civil Society organizations, media and various agencies that are involved in the creation of a better environment for children.