The new concept Justice for Children was presented and discussed at the policy consultation meeting organized by the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of corrections and Legal Assistance (MCLA) in partnership with UNICEF and the European Union on September 30. The Ministries of Education and Science, Labour, Health and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) are also involved in the consultations.
Justice for Children in Georgia who are in contact with the law
By Tatia Megeneishvili
Tuesday, October 1
Representative of UNICEF in Georgia, Sascha Graumann, said that UNICEF supports the strengthening of all parts of the child protection system, including justice mechanisms to protect the best interest of the child. "In relation to juvenile justice, we advocate for using the deprivation of liberty as the last resort and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation. We have been working with the Government of Georgia to reform the justice system so that it focuses on rehabilitation and reintegration. But now we have to move further to support all children coming into contact with the police, whether as alleged offenders, victims, witnesses or as parties to non-criminal law procedures, so they can have access to the justice systems and are better served and protected by these systems through the full application of the relevant international norms and standards," stated Graumann.
Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia, Alexander Baramidze, said that the new approach takes the concept of juvenile justice, and is a concept that has been advanced in Georgia for many years and broadens it to the level of Justice for Children.
According to the new concept, the main goal of justice system reform in Georgia should include all children in any contact with the law, unlike the previous system that targeted only children in conflict with the law.
"The new concept also aims at establishing a closer partnership between the criminal justice system and broader social protection and the child welfare system in Georgia," stressed Sophio Japaridze, Deputy Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia.
Head of the MIA Administration, Tamar Taliashvili, said that the policy consultation meeting aimed at identifying the next steps on further integrating the new approach within the justice system in Georgia.
According to UNICEF, in recent years, the Georgian government has taken significant steps to initiate reforms in the area of children's rights. The reform of the juvenile justice system under the umbrella of the wider criminal justice sector reform, demonstrates the commitment of the government to bring the juvenile system in line with international and European child rights principles. As a result, the country has a functioning diversion program for first time and has diverted over 200 young people from criminal proceedings.
The number of convicted children serving jail sentences has been reduced by over 50% from 170 to approximately 70 and an individual sentence planning approach has been introduced in both probation and the penitentiary system, along with social workers and psychologists. New legislation on juvenile justice has been initiated.