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2021 | 30th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Vienna, 17 - 21 May 2021)

Webinar: New approaches to juvenile justice in the African context

Organized by Dominicans for Justice and Peace, the Justice, Peace and Environmental Dominican Commission in Ivory Coast and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs 

May 21st, 2021

In many African countries, juvenile justice systems still lack a restorative approach despite improvements in legislations. Boys and girls are found incarcerated without alternatives because they are suspected or accused of committing an offence. They continue to be criminalized at alarming rates and incarcerated in deplorable prison conditions. Through this webinar, the organizers hoped to bring new ideas to the table for more sustainable, restorative, and positive approaches to juvenile justice systems.

Dominicans for Justice and Peace conducted a monitoring and advocacy project on juvenile justice in Ivory Coast at the beginning of 2021. A series of fact-finding missions were carried out by the Justice, Peace and Environmental Dominican Commission in Abidjan in juvenile protection services and detention centres. Ms Evelyne Gabala, Coordinator of the project in Abidjan, shared key observations with the objective to promote and defend the rights of juvenile offenders, urging alternative solutions to incarceration. 

Mr Richard Robinson, Senior Corrections Advisor from the U.S. Department of State, shared some positive impacts of restorative justice practices, which seek to repair mental, physical, and emotional troubles caused by a criminal act as well as to provide for the victim’s continued safety within their community. He challenged the audience to imagine the impacts of alternatives to incarceration coupled with a restorative focus. 

Finally, Mr Jeffery Bawa, Programme Officer of the Regional Section for Africa and the Middle East at the UNODC, informed that the UNODC hoped to upscale its work in Africa in the next 10 years. He stated that making juvenile justice more effective and accountable was an important goal and stronger partnerships with civil society organizations was fundamental. He also highlighted the key role of women as agents of change, and the fact that children and youth should be empowered into change. He invited civil society to work along with the UNODC and local and international partners, focusing on protecting children and preventing drug, terrorism, and criminalization.        

Dominicans for Justice and Peace thanks the panellists for their valuable inputs. 

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