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Sunday 20th 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.

September 2017 - June 2019 - European Union Justice, Juvenile, Security, Systems

The earliest stages of criminal procedures frequently determine the overall fairness of proceedings. During the pre-trial interrogation of vulnerable suspects or accused persons key evidence is often obtained and the admissibility of this evidence can determine the ultimate outcome of the case.

There is a growing recognition of the need for vulnerable suspects to be accorded special safeguards at the interrogation stage to ensure their fair treatment and effective participation, as expressed by the Commission Recommendation C(2013) 8178/2 (S3§13).

Although there is a slow move in the direction of increased audiovisual recording of the interrogation of vulnerable suspects or accused persons, the picture across Europe is patchy. A number of states resist the introduction of recording for a range of reasons, including cost, technical challenges and ensuring privacy.

The project ‘ProCam - Procedural Rights Observed by the Camera: Audiovisual Recordings of Interrogations in the EU’, supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union, aims to research the connection between the audiovisual recording of any questioning of vulnerable persons and the enforcement of their rights, as advised in the Commission Recommendation.

The project will research the role of audio-visual recording in securing the rights granted in Directive 2013/48, alongside facilitating EU-wide identification of good practices of recording interrogation of vulnerable persons, and the understanding of related concerns.

The project remit covers analysing international standards, researching practices in the 28 EU Member States, exchanging experiences between national stakeholders, comparing Member State laws and practices, proposing reform to reinforce good practices, and disseminating project findings at the European Parliament.

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

January 2017 - January 2019 - European Union Justice, Juvenile, Restorative, Victims

The Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (hereafter, the ‘Victims Directive’), adopted on 25th October 2012, strengthens the rights of victims and their families to information, support and protection, and lays out the procedural rights of victims when participating in criminal proceedings. It expects EU Member States (EUMS) to ensure that professionals are trained on victims’ needs.

Concretely, article 12 of The Directive establishes the right of victims to safeguards to ensure that «victims who choose to participate in restorative justice processes, have access to safe and competent restorative justice services». The Directive defines restorative justice (RJ) as «any process whereby the victim and the offender are enabled, if they freely consent, to participate actively in the resolution of matters arising from the criminal offence through the help of an impartial third party» (article 2).

Research in Europe and in other regions has revealed that victims report lower levels of fear and post-traumatic stress symptoms after a restorative justice process. Furthermore, these kinds of processes play a major role in enhancing guarantees for children and young people involved in the process, both as perpetrators and victims of harm, who may have particular vulnerabilities due to their young age.

The outcomes of such a process must be to restore as much as possible what has been lost, damaged or violated. Victims can regain some power over their lives by having the person who harmed them accountable directly to them, by receiving answers to their questions, and by telling their story of the harm and its impact. These needs are also met through apology, reparation and compensation. All these processes require communication, preferably face-to-face, between the parties.

The proactive attitude of European institutions on children’s rights in general, as well as child-friendly justice and victims' protection in particular, has created a favourable environment in the EU for justice reforms. However, in Europe far too few people who have been harmed participate in such meetings with those who have harmed them. Justice, education and other key systems seem reluctant, usually due to a lack of knowledge and experience about RJ, to enable most victims to gain access to restorative processes.

This context is the reason why the IJJO is launching the project ‘Implementing Restorative Justice with Child Victims’ (JUST/2015/RDAP/AG/VICT/9344). Its main objective will be to extend and adapt the research on RJ to demonstrate its effectiveness for young victims. Collaborating with the European Forum of Restorative Justice (EFRJ) on this project, the IJJO has decided to use the strength of two big European networks together and the experience and knowledge of the EFRJ on restorative justice to implement successful practices of juvenile restorative justice in the EU, in order to address the needs of young victims of crime committed by young offenders in the most satisfying ways.

The project will provide an opportunity for mutual learning between six countries, three of which are already using restorative justice with children successfully (the “mentor” partners), and the other three will implement observed restorative practices as part of a monitored pilot project (the “mentee” partners). In addition, in order to provide knowledge about good practices to a large pool of professionals, a practical guide on how to implement three RJ practices with children and youth will be created, and an online course will be developed based on it.

Main Activities

  • 3 pilot projects, based on a mentor-mentee relationship:
    • 3 field visits (Finland, Northern Ireland, Belgium)
    • 1 two day training session during the 3rd field visit (Belgium)
    • 3 monitoring visits (1 per country – Latvia, France, Bulgaria), as well as 2 half day meeting with national coalitions in 3 countries (Latvia, France, Bulgaria)
    • 1 two day internal training sessions in 3 countries (Latvia, France, Bulgaria)
    • ten months of concrete implementation of pilot projects in 3 countries (Latvia, France, Bulgaria)
  • Drafting of a practical guide on Implementing Restorative Justice with Children
  • Online training course based on the practical guide (2 sessions + adaptation in a self-directed course to remain online at the end of the project)
  • Final conference in Brussels

 

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

January 2017 - December 2018 - International Justice, Juvenile, Legislation, Measures, Terrorism

As the European agenda and recent events demonstrate, the issues of radicalisation and violent extremism, which may be conducive to terrorism, have increasingly become a priority for most Member States.

However, in the midst of the rush to enact counter-terrorism legislation at national and European levels, little if any consideration has been given to the fact that some of the suspected or alleged ‘terrorists’ could be children or underage juveniles.

The way terrorist suspects are treated in general needs to be considered in relation to the particular impact it may have on suspected girls and boys under the age of 18, who are children before they are suspects. Nevertheless, children adapted policies and practices in the field of counter-terrorism do not exist in most European Union Member States (EUMS) and where they do, they are specific to each country and promising experiences are not shared between Member States.

Moreover, juvenile justice agencies and practitioners as well as social actors in many EUMS have expressed a pressing need for support to help them identify, prevent and deal with radicalisation and extreme violence in children and young adults.

In consequence, the project “Strengthening Juvenile Justice Systems in the counter-terrorism context: Capacity-building and peer-learning among stakeholders” (JUST-2015-JCOO-AG-TERR) aims to address juveniles’ unique situation and their protection under international and European law in the context of counter-terrorism.

It equally addresses the requirement and urgency for juvenile justice systems to resort to diversion, alternatives and community based measures in addition to, and where possible instead of, usual criminal justice responses in the treatment of radicalised juveniles.

Moreover, due to the special situation of vulnerability and risk of being recruited in detention, it is essential to draw special attention to children deprived of liberty. The prevention of juvenile radicalisation in detention, as well as the need to design de-radicalisation and social inclusion programmes, are also a component of this project.

The project launches in January 2017 and is expected to end approximately in December 2018.

Main Activities

  • Research and analytical work. Identification, analysis and highlight of promising practices regarding counter-terrorism and public policies, strategies and programmes directed at radicalised juveniles in partners' MS; analysis and mapping of promising practices at the European level, identification of key success factors, impact assessment and validation of these experiences.
  • Study/field visits followed by national seminars: highlighted promising practices in partners' countries are observed and studied, and later discussed during national seminars.
  • Drafting of a policy-oriented white paper, including recommendations and guidelines based on the project’s results, for EUMS and EU institutions, as well as for practitioners of juvenile justice systems.
  • Drafting of a regional overview report on promising policy responses and practices, based on the results of the research.
  • Launching and managing of an online community of practice for European practitioners, which allows the sharing of practices, experiences and ideas, as well as the implementation of possibilities, regarding counter-terrorism policies and programmes directed at juveniles.
  • Final conference in Paris to present the results of the project and the draft white paper.
  •  

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

December 2016 - May 2018 - European Union Adolescent, Disorders, Health, Illness, Justice, Juvenile, Research

The project ‘FACT FOR MINORS – Fostering Alternative Care for Troubled Minors’ intends to address children with psychological, psychiatric or personality disorders, hosted by alternative care communities (or socio-educational communities) as a consequence of penal measures.

Research interests in mental health problems in juvenile justice have grown over the past years, as several studies throughout the world have shown that mental disorders are highly prevalent among children under penal measures. This represents a significant problem, even more so if the special needs of these children remain unidentified and unaddressed, with significant long-term effects on their life chances and on their physical and mental health and well-being.

The issues raised in European justice systems by children serving a penal measure in alternative care communities that show evidence of psychological, psychiatric or personality disorders, have been poorly addressed. In general, the dilemma posed by the intervention with children in the juvenile justice with such disorders lies in the fact that an inadequate therapeutic response may lead to chronical psychiatric disorders, while an inadequate socio-educational response may result in further marginalisation.

The main issue is that these children need adequate clinical attention and present clinical dilemmas, which is why they are often a real challenge for the social workers in alternative care communities. The response to this challenge cannot lay in parallel interventions by the juvenile justice and the health sectors; instead, it lays in a proper integration of the interventions of the two agencies and of the different professionals that work for or with these children. Indeed, managing children with psychological, psychiatric or personality disorders in alternative care communities requires a holistic, multidisciplinary and multiagency approach, focused on prevention, evaluation, treatment (including emergency treatment), and recovery, considering risk evaluation of clinical and legal relapse. Such approach is therefore both therapeutic and socio-educational.

In this context, this project intends to reinforce the capacity of alternative care communities in five European Union (EU) countries -Finland, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain- to adequately support and respond to the specific needs of the children with psychiatric disorders under penal measures.

Such aim will be pursued by a two-fold action that will seek to:

 Strengthen the capacity of, and the coordination between, all professionals working with and for children in alternative care to address the needs of children with psychiatric disorders; and

 Boost interagency cooperation, in particular on issues related to the alternative care of minors under penal measures and with psychiatric disorders.

MAIN ACTIVITIES

 Successful intervention methods to address the needs of children with mental health disorders in alternative care will be identified, adapted and tested. The activities in this sense are the collection of statistic and qualitative data, where available, as well as the review of the existing national literature, practices and legal framework on alternative care communities and minors with psychological or personality disorders.

 Capacity building with professionals working with or for children in alternative care in 5 partner countries and at European level through an e-learning platform. First, a needs assessment of the identified setting for the capacity-building activities is performed; second, for the engagement of the professionals for the capacity building, there is a presentation of the project aims, the identification of the professionals’ needs and institutional strengths, and the development of a capacity-building methodology. This methodology will be tested with the partners’ supervision, and followed by several national, transnational and experts meetings and national reports.

 Strengthening of multi-agency and multi-disciplinary cooperation in the area of child protection in the 5 partner countries also through finalization of formal commitments. National multi-agency meetings will be held to contribute to this end.

 Development of outputs aimed at ensuring maximum impact, visibility and sustainability of the project results and in particular of the capacity building methodology developed. The outputs will be the European guidelines for the alternative care of children with special needs and the European Handbook for professionals working with children in alternative care. A website of the project will also be set up, and the project outputs’ impact will be verified at the national level by the corresponding Ministries.

 Communication and dissemination events to present project resulst and raise awareness on the rights of children in alternative care. The dissemination events will be held at the national level by the corresponding Ministries, and a final conference will be organised in Brussels. Finally, all partners will contribute to the dissemination of the project’s results through social media and events.

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

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  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

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  • Head Office: Rue Mercelis, nº 50. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

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

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