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The European Union, the United Nations and the Lebanese authorities jointly launched today a new and promising EU-funded programme to advance juvenile and criminal justice in Lebanon.
The ceremony, held under the patronage of the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, took place in the old Internal Security Forces (ISF) academy in Warwar, which will soon become a juvenile centre for the social reintegration of children and juveniles in conflict with the law. The centre will be rehabilitated as part of the programme, to fully adhere to international standards and provide a more suitable environment for juveniles than the central prison of Roumieh.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, EU Ambassador Christina Lassen thanked the Ministries of Interior, Justice, Social Affairs and State for Human Rights Affairs, the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Internal Security Forces and the Beirut Bar Association for their support and cooperation over the past year in designing this programme in close cooperation with the EU and implementing partners: the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
With this programme, UNICEF aims to provide for children in conflict with the law access to fair, transparent and child-sensitive justice systems in the best interest of the child. UNICEF will support guarantees for fair treatment of arrested juveniles, including improving access to legal and social assistance, reducing the number of children arrested, and enhancing the capacity of the state and civil society to provide protective measures and alternatives to detention. On the other hand, UNODC will support the rehabilitation and social reinsertion of detained persons on charges related to violent extremism and terrorism, in compliance with international legal instruments and human rights norms, and to enhance detention conditions through the relocation of children to the new premise at Warwar.
EU Ambassador Christina Lassen said: "The European Union is a strong supporter of Lebanon's security institutions. We showed this again at the Rome Conference, where HRVP Mogherini pledged another EUR 50 million in support to the LAF and ISF. Strong judicial institution and a state based on rule of law is the foundation for this." "And that is why reform of the Lebanese justice system has for years been a priority of the European Union," she added.
Interior Minister Nouhad al Machnouq also expressed his support for the programme. He said: "I would like to thank the EU and EU Ambassador for their ongoing support." "This programme is more than an achievement, it is a blessing. It will ensure that young detainees go on with their lives after rehabilitation, without this affecting their future", he added.
"Advancing juvenile and criminal justice in Lebanon” is funded by the EU and implemented by the UNODC and UNICEF. It aims at strengthening juvenile justice and providing a protective environment for children, in addition to enhancing the capacity of law enforcement services and prison staff to address terrorist-related cases with a rights-based approach.