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The myths that juvenile legislation is directed against the institution of family are groundless

21 September, 2015

Dali Kurdadze

In the Georgian media and public discourse the term of "juvenile legislation” is used incorrectly. The groundless allegations are spread, claiming that this issue has been imposed by the West and gives minors unlimited rights, which in the end is directed against the family institution.There are also baseless allegations that European justice and EU practice support establishment of "juvenile fascism”.

In fact, the main goal of juvenile legislation is for rehabilitation to be given priority over punishment when crimes are committed by minors.Such system is aimed atestablishment of the individual approach towards minor offenders, the goal being resocialization of minors and their inclusion into rehabilitation programs. Juvenal legislation is based on human rights and the basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.It is based on such important regulatory documents asConvention on the Rights of the Child, European Rules for juvenile offenders subject to sanctions or measures adopted in 2008, and EU Guidelines on the Rights of the Child .EU is consistently trying to achieve progress in protection of the rights of children and minors.Any child can become a victim of violence. This includes not just physical and mental violence, but also neglect.Violence against children by family members can have dire consequences for the future and development of a child.According to various researches, most of senior offenders were subject to violence in childhood.This is why any state that wishes to develop a successful society must prioritize mental and physical health of its future generation.

The use of the term juvenile legislation in incorrect context, as well as articles and statements about juvenile fascism, are widespread not in the West, as various respondents in Georgian media claim, but on Russian websites: Геноцид Русов (Genocide of Russians), omiliya.ru, Ювенальная юстиция(Juvenile Justice) and others.Materials on these Russian websites ("ГеноцидРусов", „Стоп Ювенальной Юстиции”) are identical to the narrative in the Georgian media.

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Today juvenile justice does not exist in Russia as a separate branch of the justice system. There is no practice of analysis and systematic tracking of data about the situation in the juvenile justice system. The research conducted in 2008 with participation of the UNICEF Central and Eastern Europe/CIS regional office and the national statistics agencies of 20 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and CIS, revealed violations in the sphere of children’s rights protection. According to the study, in the period of 2002-2005 the number of minor offenders in most of the region’s countries did not increase. The exceptions are Belarus and Russian Federation. According to the same study, Russia is the leader in the region in terms of minor offenders – there are 323 offenders per 100 000 minors.

In the Russian media discourse the dominating narrative is that implementation of juvenile justice practices is useless and does not help to decrease the number of crimes committed by minors.However in the 2013 report prepared byUNICEF "Juvenile Justice in the CEE/CIS Region: Progress, Challenges, Obstacles and Opportunities” it is stated that: since 2000 the countries of the region increased their effort to establish juvenile justice, which included changes in law and reforms in the penitentiary system. As a result of these efforts the number of minors in the penitentiary decreased. For instance:in 2007-2010 in Moldova the number of children in the pre-trial detention along with the number of inmates in the prison for minors decreased by 68%. In Armenia the numbers were the lowestin2010-2013.

Besides, according to the data of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2012U.S. law enforcement agencies arrested about 1.3 million minors, which is010% less than in 2011. As a result, the claims that establishment of juvenile justice system is useless is not true. Also, attempts to present juvenile justice as a mechanism to damage the institution of family are groundless. They are not bases on any real facts and arguments.

Georgia: Juvenile Justice

According to the Association Agreement between Georgia and EU, Georgia must conduct a reform of its justice system, aimed at protection of the rights of the child. In accordance with the obligations accepted by Georgia, trainings for the judges have been held, and special curricula for retraining of the judges in the sphere of juvenile justice have been developed.

With the support of UNICEF and EU, Ministry of Justice started elaboration of Juvenile Justice Code. In 2014 conditions of the minors’ detention were improved on the basis of adopted amendments of the Code of Imprisonment.