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Saturday 19th of October 2019

What we do

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.

November 2014 - October 2016 - Europe Good practices, Justice, Juvenile, Measures, Protection, Public policies, Restorative, Rights, Systems, Victims

The project ‘REVIJ - Reparation to the Victim in the European Juvenile Justice Systems: Comparative Analysis and Transfer of Best Practices’ aims to conduct a comparative of the measures provided for victims in the European juvenile justice systems, focusing on analyzing two aspects:

First, if these measures provided for victims comply with Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of The Council, of 25 October 2012, in establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.

Second, the practices that are carried out in restorative services within the juvenile justice field, and the type of guarantees they offer to victims.

You can access the web section here.

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

January 2013 - December 2014 - European Union Protection, Restorative

Led by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, this ambitious European project aims at promoting fostering programmes as an alternative to detention for children waiting for their trial or sentence as well as for those found guilty of offences sufficiently serious to warrant custody. As a matter of fact, fostering is one of the many alternatives to custody quoted by Article 40 of the UNCRC; yet, its use remains exeptional throughout Europe.

Project members aims at first drafting an overview of inspiring fostring practices implemented within the European Union before developing a comprehensive step-by-step multi-agency framework for an Intensive and Remand Fostering Programme. The protocol of intervention will include a training programme and briefing documents designed to be effective tools for multi-agency networks, in particular foster carers,  fostering and youth justice staff, criminal justice and police personnel , with proposed core minimum standards, guidelines, practical tools procedures and information designed for young people.

Contributing to the European desk analysis of fostering programmes throughout Europe and thus bringing a widespread European perspective to this project, the IJJO hopes to take this particular collaboration as an opportunity to foster aternatives to custody in all their diversity, notably before national and European decision-makers via advocacy campaigns, lobbying and other media stunts.

Please click on this link to access the 'Alternatives to Custody for Young Offenders’ web section for further information about this project.

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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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