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Haiti - Justice : Towards the strengthening of the juvenile justice system
01/12/2017 08:34:05

Haiti - Justice : Towards the strengthening of the juvenile justice system
The Terre des Hommes Foundation, in partnership with state and non-state institutions involved in child protection, has officially launched in Les Cayes the project "Strengthening the juvenile justice system for the promotion and protection of the rights of children in conflict with the law in the Southern Department (Haiti)". The launch of this project funded by the European Union coincided with the 28th commemoration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children forgotten by society, exposed to abuse and violence... they are numerous and everywhere. While juvenile delinquency is in full swing, there are very few courts and juvenile judges in the country. "There are no children's judges, and we have only two children's courts for the whole country," lamented the Dean of the Civil Court of Les Cayes, Pierre Ezekiel Vaval, present at the ceremony of this activity organized in a hotel in Les Cayes on the treatment conditions for children in conflict with the law.

Human rights organizations, magistrates, lawyers, state institutions, civil society, schoolchildren... all the actors concerned with the problem of childhood have marked their presence in this activity, which is so important for the reinforcement of juvenile justice. According to the delegate of the Terre des Hommes Foundation, Dr. Iceland Georges Cadet, "the project is closely linked to the principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, focusing on the best interests of children, confidentiality and respect for their rights."

For the representative of Terre des Hommes-Lausanne, launching the project during the week of the commemoration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the theme of the family, "YonFanmi pou chaktimoun", is appropriate, since the family is the basis of society. "Several scientific studies have shown that the majority of children in conflict with the law come from dysfunctional families," said Dr. Georges Cadet. According to these studies, the developmental period when the child is much more likely to become a delinquent is during adolescence."

According to officials, the new project will take into account three main pillars: the child and his family; community participation and the active involvement of state actors in order to combine the efforts of all stakeholders. It will be implemented by Terre des Hommes and the Office of Human Rights in Haiti. "Promoting the rights of children is an essential element of the rule of law, which respects the national and international legal framework," said the representative of Terre des Hommes. To achieve this, she said, it is necessary above all to develop an understanding and take into account of the priorities of the State in juvenile justice, taking into account the analyzes of the working groups on this theme in the South Department ans an analysis of the needs of the different target groups. An opinion shared by the various actors present at the ceremony who did not hide their enthusiasm for such a project.

"I am very happy to be here because I see that there is a very strong consensus between all actors, both the judicial system here in Les Cayes, the actors and administrators of the prison as well as all accompanying persons who are there, whether it is the IBERS, the Office of Human Rights, who are accompanying us in this project," said EU Ambassador to Haiti Vincent Degert, who pleads for respect children's rights.

According to the diplomat, for children in conflict with the law, it would be best if the custodial measure is the last option and even then, the prison must be a place of social reintegration. "We must see how to possibly avoid that children go into this prison environment, and if they are there, what support must be provided to ensure that they avoid reoffending after having stayed there for the first time, to get out of this cycle, says the EU ambassador to Haiti. These are some of the projects that we thought were important."

All actors agree on this point: We must put the spotlight on children. They need it, as do their families and society. Otherwise fighting the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency would be wishful thinking." "Celebrating childhood is choosing to invest," said Vincent Degert. We can change the situation by our actions, our decisions..."

HL/ Valery Daudier / HaitiLibre

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