IMPROVING CHILD-FRIENDLY JUSTICE SYSTEM IN ALBANIA
Tirana, 17 December 2020 - A videoconference on “Strengthening Child – Friendly Justice System in Albania”, was held in the framework of the project implemented in collaboration between the UNICEF and Save the Children, with the financial support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and the Municipality of Berat and Gjirokastra. The conference showcased the results, key findings and strategic recommendations for advancing child-friendly justice system, with the focus on the local level.
The videoconference aimed at introducing policy makers and practitioners with the emerging practices and models of working toward the establishment and/or strengthening of services and implementation of an inter-disciplinary approach to case management in support of children in conflict and in contact with the law.
Minister of Justice Etilda Gjonaj launched the Integrated System of Data on Justice for Children, the state database tracking the cases of children in conflict and contact with the law throughout the law enforcement and justice authorities. The online system is available to the professionals at www.drejtesipertemitur.gov.al
The videoconference brought together policy makers and practitioners, including representatives from the Ministry of Justice and institutions that are part of the National Mechanism for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Justice for Children Strategy, the law enforcement and justice authorities, local government authorities, professionals involved in legal processes affecting children, social services workforce, experts, academics, youth, parents and representatives from the civil society sector and from the international community.
During the videoconference Mrs. Etilda Gjonaj, Minister of Justice, pointed out that “For the first time, the professionals in the justice system, the Court, the Prosecution, the Probation Service, the General
Directorate of Prisons and the Police will interact with each other through the Integrated Juvenile Justice Data System”.
“Children’s rights are important when they come into contact with the justice sector, and I am quite sure that the programme here in Albania has made these rights much easier and accessible to the children” highlighted Annette Bull, deputy Director for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We count on the Ministry of Justice leadership to steer all the other public authorities at the central and at the local level towards establishment of similar practices in every jurisdiction of the country. Money and energy spent wisely today, to support children victims, witnesses and also offenders to obtain justice in a way that protects their rights, is adapted to their best interest, needs and age, and promotes their education, rehabilitation, reintegration and upbringing away from crime, is an investment in the societal peace and prosperity tomorrow” said Dr Roberto de Bernardi, UNICEF Representative in Albania.
“The protection of children must remain a priority and is essential for avoiding risks, all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation of children. The state and institutions have the responsibility to respect the rights of children to protection and provide all children equal access to justice and social protection” emphasized Anila Meco, Country Director of Save the Children
As part of the programme 296 children obtained free legal assistance, psycho-social counselling, restorative justice services, economic reintegration support, and referred to service providers in the area of education, vocational training and health care; 204 parents participated in positive parenting programmes, 62 justice for children professionals of the various disciplines were trained on inter-sectoral case management for the children in conflict with the law, as well as children victims and witnesses of crime;
Local representatives highlighted the importance of the inter-institutional cooperation at the local level in addressing issues and ensuring the rights of children in conflict with law. They expressed enthusiasm for the results achieved so far and reconfirmed their commitment to continue on this path for improving services, establishing effective mechanisms and programs that help rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with law.
The Minister of Justice expressed her commitment to support municipalities in replicating the best practices and models of Berat and Gjirokastra in other jurisdictions and to follow the political, administrative and budgetary recommendations for future upscaling aiming to bring about tangible changes in the situation of children in conflict and in contact with the law.