The 6th IJJO International Conference provided the opportunity to look further at how to prioritize alternatives to the deprivation of liberty and to implement better restorative juvenile justice approaches. Consequently law reform aspects were addressed, as was the need to orientate interventions towards the best interest of the minor and to the specific needs of each young person or adolescent, through the use of empirical evidence-based models.
The IJJO advocates the design of legislation, public policies and programmes focused on the best interest of the minor that respond to their needs and violence risk factors. Moreover, these policies should be designed based on empirical and scientific evidence, using theoretical models whose impact has been assessed and shown to work in terms of social integration and reduced recidivism.
It is in this context that the International Juvenile Justice Observatory organized its 6th International Conference: "Making Deprivation of Children’s Liberty a Last Resort: Towards evidence-based policies on alternatives", which will take place in Brussels, Belgium, on December 3 and 4, 2014. The Conference venue was 'Les Ateliers des Tanneurs'.
Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the implementation of international and regional initiatives in this field led by the UN, the European institutions and civil society, the Conference addressed the need to improve the effectiveness of the policies and programmes aimed at breaking cycles of violence in its different stages, with the priority given to alternatives to detention, mediation and conflict resolution in a social, family and community environment.
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Despite the number of UN Standards and Regional Recommendations, many children, adolescents and young people are still held for significant periods of time in police custody, pre-trial detention or are deprived of their liberty as a sanction.
The excessive use of liberty deprivation may be due to several factors, such as an absence of national legislation on alternative measures, punitive and repressive approaches that respond to perceptions of insecurity, and the criminalisation of adolescents and young people in risk situations who are caught up in cycles of violence.
As stated in the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, “Promoting Restorative Justice For Children”, alternatives outside court such as mediation, community intervention and restorative justice have proved to be very efficient ways of dealing with adolescents and young people in conflict with the law. They offer a quicker, less formal, and cost-efficient response to offending behaviour, thus allowing the juveniles to better understand the consequences of their actions, to take responsibility for their deeds and to accept the reparation owed to victims.
Issues that were discussed include:
International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation
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