Friday 22nd of March 2019

IJJO Conference

Recommendations

In line with the discussions held during the International Conference, the IJJO would like to appeal governments, public agencies and relevant stakeholders to take action in the following areas:

  • In time of economic instability worldwide, States should pay due attention to the most vulnerable segments of society—children and young people. Since often in such conditions criminality thrives, they should adopt measures which prevent children from being involved in crime on the first place and reduce recidivism on the second. This would require necessary legislative and policy reforms designed to strengthen the child-welfare system and ensure effective collaboration and cooperation between different public sectors, such as health, education and justice.
  • Social and economic developments have contributed to the emergence of new forms of criminality and juvenile crime. Where crime has already occurred, it is the responsibility of governments to devise strategies that address these new criminal trends, with a particular focus on children and young people's rights. They should ensure that such measures are based on reliable data and informed by comparative analysis. To this end, States are advised to encourage research and dissemination of knowledge between public institutions, academics and civil societies, both domestically and internationally.
  • Often periods of economic crisis are characterized by financial cuts in public sectors and in relation to juvenile justice, excessive emphasis on punitive measures following populist political rhetoric. Governments should resist such trends and ensure that fundamental rights of children and more specifically young offenders are adequately protected both in law and in practice. This would require their due compliance with core international standards dealing with children´s rights and ensuring child-friendly justice. Finally, it is essential that there are effective mechanisms for investigating and prosecuting violations and making children´s rights enforceable.
  • The IJJO is aware that in the context of economic instability, financial cuts in public sectors and in juvenile justice system, specifically, are sometimes unavoidable. However, this should be rather seen as an opportunity to discontinue less effective policies for dealing with young offenders, and focus on measures which provide long-term gains and optimize spending. In this regard, there is ample evidence showing the usefulness of promoting diversion from the juvenile justice system; alternatives to custody and restorative justice methods, while adopting a multidisciplinary approach. Considering the amount of financial resources associated with incarceration, as well as the inadequacy of this measure for children and young offenders, States should employ custody as a measure of last resort.
  • It is also essential to promote family-friendly policies, in particular for singleparent families and women, for example to make it easier for them to return to work after a period of caring for their children, by promoting policies designed to facilitate (re-)entry into the labour market, with a view to enabling them to regain financial independence. In this sense, EU countries should learn from the Scandinavian countries and France, which have the best practices in family policy (with significant public investment , a wide range of measures and services to support families, provision of care services for children, high employment rate of mothers with young children, etc.)
  • In times of austerity, governments have to fight against the impact of the recession on youth well -being, implementing balancing measures to prevent families and children from getting poorer. The IJJO particularly cautions against cutbacks in education spending, stressing the link between investment in education and economic growth, productivity, and reducing social inequality. Essential heath and social services have to remain a priority to protect the most vulnerable ones, to reduce social inequalities and counter social exclusion and poverty, with particular reference to child poverty. It is also vital to ensure access to quality education, housing, facilities for young people. Furthermore, special attention should be given to children of indigenous, migrant and refugee families, who are more likely to live in poverty and to face problems, combating discrimination against members of their community of origin.
  • Nevertheless, in cases where custody is unavoidable, States should ensure that the rights of the young offender to medical and psychological help and to be free of violence receive sufficient protection both in law and in practice by adopting relevant safeguards in detention facilities. The long-term social and economic gains of social and professional inclusion have been widely acknowledged throughout the world. Therefore, within detention facilities governments are advised to make extensive use of personalized and holistic programmes which focus on education, vocational training and health interventions. Such measures have a great potential for young offenders and ensure their successful reinsertion in society, reducing recidivism and thus, crime in general.

 

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

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