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Children in Prison From Convention to National Legislation: Legal Implementation of International Standards Bragi Guðbrandsson Government Agency for Child.

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Presentation on theme: "Children in Prison From Convention to National Legislation: Legal Implementation of International Standards Bragi Guðbrandsson Government Agency for Child."— Presentation transcript:

1 Children in Prison From Convention to National Legislation: Legal Implementation of International Standards Bragi Guðbrandsson Government Agency for Child Protection

2 The International Community: Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention An effort that has a history of more than a century. A systematic effort by the UN since 1950: Congresses, Treaties/Conventions, GA´s Resolutions, Rules, Guidelines, Committees, Institutes, etc. A systematic effort by the Council of Europe since the 1950´s: Conventions, Conferences, PA and CO Recommendations, Committees, etc.

3 The International Community: the Focus on Children and Criminal Justice The United Nations: UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (1985) – The Beijing Rules UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (1990) – The Ryadh Guidelines UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990)

4 The Council of Europe: The European Convention on the Exercise of Children´s Rights (1996) The Recommendation on the Role of Early Psychosocial Intervention in the Prevention of Criminality (2000) The Recommendation on Social Reactions to Juvenile Delinquency (1987)

5 Some Basic International Standards of Juvenile Justice Prevention: emphasis on preventive policies facilitating the successful socialisation and integration, with a high priority on the family and children in risk Early Intervention: emphasis on community- based services, specific programmes, non- institutional treatment, coordination, and interdisciplinary effort Application of the principle of doli incapax, the age of criminal responsibility Specific judicial procedures against minors, including police investigation

6 Rehabilitation rather than just desert. Assistance/restoration instead of repression and punishment. Reaction in proportion not only to gravity of offence but also to the needs of the child. Restriction on the personal liberty of the child should be limited to the possible minimum. Imprisonment should be used as last resort. Every child deprived of liberty should be treated with humanity and respect and guaranteed fundamental rights, such as being separated from adults, maintain contact with his/her family etc.

7 Capital punishment should never be imposed, nor should children be subject to corporal punishment The objective of institutional placement should be to provide care, protection and all necessary assistance, such as psychological, educational, vocational and social support All disciplinary measures institutions should maintain safety, be consistent with dignity of the juvenile and be subject of inspection and complaints Arrangement should be made in order to assist the juvenile in returning to society and provide appropriate aftercare

8 Why Are International Standards More Important Than Ever? Evidence of rising numbers of child offenders/offences in many parts of the world Evidence of changing nature of youth crimes: more vicious and violent Evidence of strengthening of punitive justice in some countries, just deserts Evidence of rising numbers of children in prisons, e.g. UK and USA Evidence of institutional abuse of children

9 Legal Implementation of International Standards: The Case of Iceland The basic characteristic of juvenile justice common with the other Nordic countries. The age of criminal responsibility (15y). A great emphasis is laid on the local social services in the implementation of preventive measures, e.g. support to families - and programmes for young offenders and children at risk.

10 A close interaction of the police, prosecution and the child protection services in the investigation of youth crimes Legislation allows for special sanctions for juveniles, e.g. linking discharge, probation orders or suspended sentence with rehabilitation Imprisonment is considered last resort Institutional treatment as an alternative to incarceration

11 Intervention Regarding Young Offenders (Younger Than 18 Years) Police investigation monitored by the Child Protection Services CPS makes an independent inquiry and a plan of supportive measures Support directed at the child and the family in the community Institutional placement considered only if community services do not work

12 Additional Intervention Regarding Offenders 15 to 18 Years Police investigation evaluated by the Prosecution Withdrawal of charges on special conditions Conditional Discharge Suspended Sentences Unconditional Sentencing – cannot exceed 8 years Yearly between 1 to 4 unconditional sentences No special prisons for children Unconditional sentences in treatment: Contract with the Government Agency for Child Protection

13 Institutional Therapy The importance of assessment (diagnosis) Specialization of treatment services to accommodate children´s needs Long – term treatment in a family setting ( size appr. 6 children), emotional nourishment Contracting-out of treatment services Preventing abuse: Rules on the Rights of Children in Residential Facilities and the use of coercive measures Monitoring Education and training of staff Aftercare

14 Some Recommendations for Discussions: The general approach to youth crime should be multiagency and interdisciplinary to ensure coordinated and appropriate interventions A special emphasis should be given to the implementation of specific non – institutional interventions: Victim/ offender mediation, youth contract schemes, MST, Efforts against street gangs Institutional abuse of children should be prevented by regulations on the rights of children in institutions and effective monitoring

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