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Thursday 17th of October 2019

What we do

July 2017 - January 2020 - European Union Child, Justice, Minors, Rights

In order to properly apply child-friendly justice, respecting children’s right to information is essential, as well as adapting such information to their age, in a language that they can understand (Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on Child Friendly Justice, 2010). Children should be informed about their rights during all stages of the proceedings, in a language which they are able to understand.

In this framework, the project ‘Child-Friendly JT - The right of minors to information, translation and interpretation in criminal proceedings: Development of child-friendly justice tools’, aims to contribute to the correct implementation of Directives 2012/13/EU (on the right of information in criminal proceedings), 2010/64/EU (on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings) and 2016/800/EU (on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings).

To do so, children's knowledge of their rights during the judicial process will be assessed. In order to analyse this knowledge, an evaluation questionnaire will be created, and later, discussion groups within detention centres for juvenile offenders will be organised.

After an evaluation of the needs expressed during the project, three information brochures will be created for children, in which their rights throughout the criminal procedure will be presented. The brochures will also contain relevant information on criminal procedures, all in a language adapted to the child’s comprehension capacity.

In order to develop these documents, the needs of the different participating countries will be analysed through the results obtained. These brochures will be different according to each stage of the judicial process: police arrest / custody, trial and detention. The goal is for children to be able to participate in their own judicial process and for them to be aware of their rights.

In addition, taking into consideration the child’s right to interpretation and translation under a child-friendly justice system, these brochures will be translated into the 24 official languages of the European Union, as well as in the 3 non-official languages most present within European juvenile justice systems.

Likewise, 3 information brochures will be developed for parents/holders of parental authority, in order for them to have access to clear information, available in a simplified language.

In order to analyse the impact and the effectiveness of the information brochures, a pilot study containing a pre and post evaluation will be carried out with 2 independent groups (juvenile offenders and children outside the juvenile justice system).

Click here to go to the project's web section on the IJJO website.

January 2017 - December 2018 - European Union Child, Criminal, Protection, Public policies

Criminal proceedings are daunting for all. However, children are more likely to be overwhelmed by the experience and less likely to participate effectively, seriously undermining their ability to receive a fair trial. In its Impact Assessment on a proposal for measures on special safeguards for children and vulnerable adults suspected or accused in criminal proceedings (hereafter, the Impact Assessment), the European Commission (hereafter, the Commission) noted that children “face a higher risk of discrimination or deprivation of their fundamental rights due to their lack of knowledge, maturity or mental and physical disabilities”.

Despite international and regional standards in this area, the Impact Assessment found that the fair trial rights of 1 million children facing criminal proceedings in the EU each year are not sufficiently guaranteed. A 2014 Commission study examined legislation and policy governing children’s involvement in criminal proceedings across the EU, highlighting the lack of key safeguards for child suspects and defendants in many countries. These include the failure to provide information in a manner specifically adapted to the child’s needs; insufficient protection from lengthy pre-trial detention; limitations on the right to be heard; and the failure to audio-visually record interviews with children.

The European Commission also identified the lack of mandatory specialist training for defence lawyers representing children as a key deficiency in many Member States, including Hungary and Romania. Defence lawyers lack interdisciplinary training (involving, for example, juvenile justice experts -lawyers, judges, prosecutors, NGOs and academics-, social workers and child psychologists) on (a) the international and regional standards which can be used to ensure children enjoy their right to a fair trial, (b) the avenues available for enforcing those standards and (c) the specific skills required to ensure that child suspects and defendants can effectively participate in criminal proceedings. Furthermore, there is an absence of regional networking opportunities through which defence lawyers representing children can exchange knowledge and develop strategic regional responses to systemic challenges facing their clients.

The EU Directive on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings, which may reach its transposition deadline during the project timeframe, and other regional and international standards, including the Council of Europe's child-friendly justice guidelines and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, have the potential to strengthen the safeguards available for child suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings, but only if legal professionals are fully equipped to use them in their day-to-day practice.

MAIN ACTIVITIES

Regional conference: organisation of a regional conference to ensure that the development of the two main outputs of the project, the toolkit and the training programme, are informed by (a) knowledge of the challenges faced by both child suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings and the lawyers who represent them and (b) interdisciplinary expertise on the skills required by defence lawyers when representing children. The conference will provide the opportunity for a wide range of experts (including juvenile justice experts; lawyers, judges, prosecutors, NGOs and academics, as well as social workers and child psychologists) to share examples of good practice and inform the content of the toolkit and training programme. A conference report will be produced as a record of the expert input collaged during the conference.

Toolkit and training programme: the training materials, with both in-person and online components, can be used in a sustainable and replicable way to train lawyers across the EU in the knowledge and skills required effectively to represent child suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings. They are based on the perceptions of EU defence practitioners regarding the challenges faced by child suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings (including case examples), the challenges which lawyers face in providing effective legal presentation to child suspects and defendants, and the current training opportunities available to them. As well as this, the materials are based on research about existing analysis on the experience of child suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings, the perspectives of children on their experiences in criminal proceedings, and existing practice on the training of lawyers in this area.

- Production of the toolkit: to set out relevant international and regional standards, including a guide to the EU Directive, guidance on the practical application of those standards, practical checklists for defence lawyers to use when representing child suspects and defendants, and information on how to access international and regional avenues of redress.

- Production of the in-person training programme: including an agenda, sample slides, case studies, group exercises and assessments are used during the two-day training programme for defence lawyers,  including guidance for training providers on effective marketing of the programme, adaptation of the programme to the specific needs in their jurisdiction, and practical tips for the delivery of the programme.

- Production of the online training programme: featuring the materials produced for the in-person trainings, as well as short videos from expert trainers.

Regional training course: the two-day regional training course introduces bar associations from all 28 Member States to the project training materials and encourages them to deliver similar training programmes in their own jurisdictions. Adopting a train-the-trainer model, the two-day course demonstrates to participants how to use and tailor the training materials for future training opportunities. A regional training report will identify any problems with the training materials which can be addressed through further revision, and will develop practical tips on delivering training to be included in the final version of the training materials.

National training courses: country-specific training to 80 lawyers, 40 lawyers in each of Hungary and Romania, will increase their knowledge of relevant international and regional standards and improve their practical skills in order to ensure the effective participation of child suspects and defendants. Country-specific needs will have been identified through research on the challenges faced by child suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings and current approaches to the training of defence lawyers on this area of practice, as well as on lawyers' perception on their training needs. The training materials will be adapted to the specific needs in Hungary and Romania, both of which are jurisdictions where defence lawyers currently receive limited training on how to represent effectively child suspects and defendants. A short national training report will be produced on each national training course, identifying any problems with the training materials and setting out practical tips on development and delivery of country-specific training programmes for inclusion in the final version of the training materials.

Click here to go to the project's web section on the IJJO website.

July 2016 - June 2018 - International Assistance, Child, Prevention, Training, Violence

As the European agenda entails, the issue of radicalisation and countering violent extremism has increasingly become a priority for every European Union (EU) Member State. The radicalisation of EU citizens, which may go as far as their departure to fight for terrorist and extreme violent organisations such as IS, poses a genuine security threat to the European Union, its member states and neighbouring countries.

The quickening pace of this phenomenon means that repressive measures are no longer sufficient and that a new strategy based on prevention needs to be adopted.

The project “The prevention of juvenile radicalisation: Promoting the use of alternatives to detention through judicial training” will address the issue of juvenile radicalisation in detention, within and outside the prison system, through the sharing of knowledge and good practices between judicial professionals and actors of several EU Member States (EUMS), especially those drawing on cross-sector collaboration. It is based on the assumption that efforts to promote disengagement from violence and extremism will be more effective if they build on existing structures for crime prevention and rehabilitation.

The activities proposed in this project, and especially the training programme, will therefore target in priority the judiciary and judicial staff: judges, prosecutors and court officers, as well as other legal practitioners and actors involved in the justice system: lawyers, probation officers, educators, mediators and policymakers, as being the group most susceptible of benefiting of, and implementing, knowledge and good practices shared and learnt through the project.

The project will be focused on the three following themes:

The prevention of radicalisation in detention.

Tertiary prevention and reinsertion.

De-radicalisation processes through alternatives to detention, including community and family based approaches to de-radicalisation.

Main Activities

  • Overview of the situation of radicalisation among youngsters in Europe and the use of alternatives to detention in EUMS: providing in-depth research on the situation of radicalisation among youngsters and the use of alternatives to detention in the 28 EUMS. This research is provided by two external consultants, specialists on radicalisation and judicial training issues, who are also in charge of the training package. A group of 4 experts also contributes to this diagnosis and analysis by sharing their knowledge and experience in order to improve the contents of the training package. Furthermore, each partner participates to the research by providing a national report on the situation of radicalisation and the use of alternatives to detention in their home country.
  • National practice-oriented training and knowledge sharing: exchanging policies, learning from good practices and training of the trainers concerning the prevention of radicalisation and the use of alternatives to detention in partners' countries. This activity, in which all partners will participate, consists of 3 national meetings organised in Germany, Belgium and Spain, each one being focused on a specific theme and composed of a national workshop to exchange on good practices, a study visit and a training session led by the two external consultants -who produce the training package.
  • Training manual: production, and subsequent translation into national languages, of a training package. The training manual is composed of 5 volumes: 1. European policy and theoretical framework; 2. Prevention of radicalisation in detention; 3. Community-based and family intervention; 4. Tertiary prevention experiences; 5. National reports and highlight of good practices. It is intended for the partners and national stakeholders in order to allow for its dissemination at a national level in the partner’s countries through national workshops.
  • Online training course: production of a self-learning activity based on the training manual and hosted on the IJJO e-learning platform in each of the partners’ languages that will be open to stakeholders in each partner’s country.
  • Knowledge diffusion and final conference: recommendations on the prevention of radicalisation and the use of alternatives to detention for youngsters will be embodied in a policy brief, while the results of the project will be presented during a final conference in Paris that will bring together all the partners of the project and European Council for Juvenile Justice’ members (especially from the Judiciary and the Public Administration sections).
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Click here to go to the project's web section on the IJJO website.

May 2014 - May 2016 - Europe Adolescent, Child, Education, Protection, Rights, Victims

Participation in legal proceedings places children at high risk of victimisation. Research from SAPI (Social Activities and Practices Institute – Bulgaria) showed that children are repeatedly interviewed about the same subject by police officers, social workers, investigators, experts, judges, etc., most of which have little child-oriented knowledge, and are not capable of correctly interrogating children. Medical examinations are still conducted without consideration for the child’s specific needs, which carries a high risk for secondary victimisation, especially in sexual abuse cases. Overall, research shows that child victims or witnesses of crime’s rights to information, accompaniment and support are not at all guaranteed.

The project aims to improve the situation of child victims or witnesses of crime in legal proceedings through an integrated approach. In support of programme priority “Supporting victims of crime”, the project promotes the use of the 2012 Directive on minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, “in order to improve mutual trust with the view to ensuring protection of rights of victims and of the accused”.

The project's final outcome is the production of a detailed model for multidisciplinary needs assessment and, on this basis, the development of an integrated approach for guaranteeing the child’s rights and best interests during their involvement in legal proceedings.

The target groups are:

1) Professionals involved in criminal procedures (police, prosecutors, judges) in Bulgaria, France, Italy and Romania, who will take part in educational activities to improve their attitudes and their capacity for guaranteeing the child’s rights in a multidisciplinary manner.

2) Professionals from the system of child protection; social service providers; forensic medicine specialists providing expertise and psycho-therapeutic support to child victims of crime in Bulgaria and France; and state policy makers, who will be introduced to an integrated approach to assessing and responding to the needs of children involved in criminal proceedings.

The project is scheduled to last 24 months. It started in May 2014 and will end in May 2016.

To access the project's web section, click here

July 2014 - December 2014 - Europe Adolescent, Child, Justice, Juvenile, Offenders, Reintegration, Research, Restorative, Rights, Standards, Victims

Restorative practices support a participative notion of justice, that favours reintegration over retribution and punishment. As such, by investing in the youths' bond to the community and in a process that stimulates assumption of responsibility, restorative practices may prove particularly appropriate to integrate the best interest of the child in the justice process.

Furthermore, this research, through its definite regional connotation, was designed to stress the common denominator of practices that vary considerably from one European country to the other. In particular, the traditional focus on a children´s rights perspective, that prevails in European and EU standards, and that includes both the rights of the offender and the victim.

The project, carried out by the IJJO's European Council for Juvenile Justice, provided for three main outputs, in the form of the following final publications:

Research and Selection of the Most Effective Juvenile Restorative Justice Practices in Europe: Snapshots from 28 EU Member States

The team of experts from Greisfwald University, composed of Professor Frieder Dunkel and Doctor Andrea Parosanu, were in charge of the analysis of existing restorative practices across the 28 EU Member States, reviewed in the 28 final national snapshots. The research investigated the various factors that contribute to the effectiveness of restorative justice, taking into account: the legal bases that, in each country, trigger the access and use to restorative practices; the organisational framework and the attribution of responsibilities that determine the delivery of restorative measures; the implementation of restorative justice in practice; and finally the evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of restorative measures.

Vol I: Research and Selection of the Most Effective Juvenile Restorative Justice Practices in Europe: Snapshots from 28 EU Member States

Protecting Rights, Restoring Respect and Strengthening Relationships: European Model for Restorative Justice with Children and Young People

The European Model, which analyses good restorative practices, and key features of effectiveness, is based on the research conducted by a team of experts in the field of restorative justice. The experts also investigated the use of restorative measures through three case studies: Belgium, Finland and Northern Ireland. Tim Chapman, Course Director of the Restorative Practices Masters at the University of Ulster, coordinated the overall project. Maija Sisko Gellin, Finnish Forum for Mediation, who has extensive experience of mediation with young people both in schools and the criminal justice system, supported the practice model, in particular through knowledge of the juvenile restorative justice system in Finland. Monique Anderson, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, also supported the practice model, calling on her experiences with the juvenile restorative justice system in Belgium.

Vol II: Protecting Rights, Restoring Respect and Strengthening Relationships: European Model for Restorative Justice with Children and Young People

Toolkit for Professionals: Implementing a European Model for Restorative Justice with Children and Young People

Finally, the Toolkit was realised under the direction of the same research team that produced the Model. This final publication was designed to allow for clear and efficient implementation of the principles and methods illustrated in the Model, and is devised for practitioners of restorative justice and justice professionals, in order to diffuse effective practices.

Vol III: Toolkit for Professionals: Implementing a European Model for Restorative Justice with Children and Young People

You can access the web section here.

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    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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