UNICRI, in close coordination with partner countries and thanks to the financial contribution of the Government of Japan, has recently concluded a project aimed at facilitating the adoption of diversion and alternative measures to reduce juveniles’ recruitment in criminal and terrorist organizations. The initiative integrated the prevention dimension in the legal and judiciary systems of the partner countries involved.
The main outcome of the project consisted in the preparation of comprehensive action plans to address needs and gaps in the use of diversion or alternative measures within the juvenile justice systems in alignment with international juvenile justice standards. The action plans include a wide range of activities analysing the resources needed and their potential impact. Some of the priority actions identified include the enhancement of the capacity of law enforcers, prosecutors, social workers and probation officers on diversion and alternative measures to detention; the development of diversion and community-based alternatives; and the establishment of routine and monitoring mechanisms to increase coordination between the different agencies and the involvement of community organizations. Each of the activities identified will be assigned to the lead national entities for implementation.
The project envisaged research focusing on legal tools, operational practices and capacity building as well as round-table meetings with relevant stakeholders in the partner countries to ensure ownership.
The Director of UNICRI, Ms. Antonia Marie De Meo, said, “We express our gratitude to the Government of Japan, through its Embassy in Rome, for generously funding the project and for the excellent collaboration to address the concerning issue of juveniles in conflict with the law. The reforms proposed by the national action plans support the development and social reintegration of children at risk. They also contribute to decreasing the risks of abuse and further criminalization as well as the danger of children being recruited by criminal gangs or violent extremist groups. This is essential work to achieve social cohesion, development and human rights for all.”
Since its establishment more than 50 years ago, UNICRI has supported countries in preventing and countering this phenomenon through applied research, legal and technical assistance, advanced training, social activities and awareness campaigns. The Institute works in strict cooperation with national and international entities with the aim of supporting countries, making the greatest use of international expertise and best practices, to set up appropriate structures and institutions.
The initiative is grounded in the United Nations 2030 Agenda and aims at contributing to the achievement of Goal 4 on quality education; Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong Institutions; and Goal 17 on partnerships. UNICRI will continue with its efforts in the field of juvenile justice, in line with the Institute’s strategic priority on preventing crime through the protection and empowerment of vulnerable groups.