3,000 juveniles benefit from juvenile justice reform

Georgia adopted a modern Juvenile Justice Code in 2015.Photo: EU in Georgia press office.

Agenda.ge, 31 Oct 2018 - 17:02, Tbilisi,Georgia

Over 3,000 juveniles have benefited from juvenile justice reforms which have been carried out in Georgia through the joint efforts of the Georgian Justice Ministry, the EU and UNICEF since 2010.

Juveniles aged 16-21 have benefited from deviation and mediation activities allowing them to atone for their crimes while avoiding the possible negative aspects of criminal prosecution,” the EU in Georgia reported.

The Georgian Justice Ministry, the EU and UNICEF have  launched a week-long campaign which will highlight the above-mentioned achievement regarding the 3,000 juveniles  and the introduction of child friendly spaces and procedures in the Georgian justice system, including the opening of the first child friendly room in a court building.

These achievements must be seen from the perspective of the adoption of a modern Juvenile Justice Code in Georgia in 2015,” the European Union representation in Georgia says.

Carl Hartzell, ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, has stated that 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.

Carl Hartzell stated that through joint efforts, all children will be better treated in any interaction with the justice system, whether as victim, offender or witness.

We are extremely happy that today, through this support, over 3,000 children and young offenders have atoned for their crimes through an approach based on rehabilitation rather than punishment only,” Hartzell stated.

Ghassan Khalili, UNICEF representative in Georgia stated that the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Code was a genuine achievement in bringing the juvenile justice system closer to international standards.

Achievements of Juvenile Justice Reforms during 2010-2018 are as follows, based on the EU in Georgia:

  • More than 3000 children have participated in diversion programmes;
  • The number of children detained and imprisoned has been reduced significantly.
  • Reoffending rate has remained low, 9 per cent with only 152 children.
  • More than 2,000 professionals (judges, prosecutors, legal aid providers, penitentiary and probationary staff etc.) have been trained in matters related to juvenile justice.
  • The social work element has been strengthened and assessment of children’s individual needs has been introduced at all stages of criminal proceedings
  • The prosecutor's office has prioritised the juvenile justice reforms and a new human rights department has been established at the Ministry of Interior in early 2018 to address crimes committed by juveniles or against them.
  • Ministry of Justice started working creating a referral system for juveniles
  • Pre-trial assessments, alternatives to detention and imprisonment, such as home arrest, as well as individual sentence planning have been furthermore applied to juveniles.

The EU in Georgia says that 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 representation says that they will continue to support 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.