Human Rights: Juvenile Justice Children rights

On 15-16 June, UNMIK Human Rights Office organized a round table on the protection of the rights of children in the justice system. Judge Renate Winter, a highly experienced specialist in juvenile justice, Vice President of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and Judge for the Hybrid Court of Sierra Leone facilitated in her private capacity the two days brainstorming. Representatives of the Assembly of Kosovo, the Ministry of Justice and the correctional services, child rights experts, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, civil society and international organizations participated in the event, which provided them with the opportunity to exchange best practices and explore how to further implement human rights standards in the administration of justice for juveniles and children in Kosovo. Judge Renata Winter noted that despite significant advancement in legislation, the major obstacle for the protection of children rights in conflict with the Law, remains the implementation of the legal framework.

SOUNDBITE

Judge Renate Winter

Renate Vice President of the United Nations Committee of the Rights of the Child

All the colleagues that are specially trained and we have specially trained colleagues in the police, with the prosecutors, with the judges. They all have problems with implementation of the practical part of the law. Not about the law. The law does quiet a lot possible, but the practice is not possible because the structures are missing.

NARRATION

During the workshop crucial questions have been discussed in relation to juvenile justice. Almost all participants agreed that detention in Juvenile Justice is a measure of last resort.

 Soundbite

Judge Renate Winter

What do we have on legal safeguards, what do we have on restorative justice, can we use non-custodial measures that are in the law already. Can we use it if so? What is necessary? Why it does not work. What works?

Narration

Miriam Ghalmi, the head of UNMIK Human Rights Office said that juvenile justice remains unaddressed in Kosovo and this is a significant human rights concern.

Soundbite

Miriam Ghalmi

We managed over past two days to gather judges, prosecutors but also social workers and representatives of civil society to discuss together best practices on how to address the rights of children in conflict with the law in Kosovo. The main goal of this roundtable was to formulate joint recommendations to improve the effectiveness of juvenile justice in Kosovo.”

Narration

UNMIK invited Children from World Vision project “Kids for Peace.” The Children expressed their views about the rights of children in juvenile justice.

 Soundbite

Filip DimicSrednja Medicinska Skola Suvi Do

I have learned quite a lot, in general about children in trial and about punishment of children. I was quite surprised, because I didn't think that this roundtable would address only about the participation of children in Juvenile Justice, but fine, you always learn something new. 

Ardina Ahmetaj Sallagrazhde, Municipality of Suhareka/Suva Reka

Today in this workshop I have met new people who advocate for a comprehensive involvement of children in Juvenile justice and the protection of children. I felt very good and I am pleased that in Kosovo there are still people that fight for these issues that are very important for us.

Narration

According to Judge Winter, Kosovo is lacking a pool of specialized lawyers for children. As a result, lawyers, who are not specialized in juvenile justice, are not prepared to defend the rights of the children in juvenile justice

Soundbite

Judge Renate Winter

Especially those children where you do not know if they are perpetrator of if they are victims and a specialized lawyer knows. I can go to the judge and say I found this and that possibility and there is no necessity to put a child in a pretrial detention, because he is specialized this is what we would that would really need.

Narration

The Kosovo Constitution includes clear provisions on juvenile justice and they are in full accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However the main challenges remain the understanding of the implications of such a legal framework and the implementation of the legislation. Ultimately, the goal of the round table was to identify practical mechanisms and best practices to better address children rights in juvenile justice in Kosovo.

UNICEF key principles on children's rights state that “We are not sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them. We are not expenses; we are investments. We are not just young people; we are people and citizens of this world.”