By Defence for Children – Palestine
DCI Middle East and North Africa Regional Office (DCI-MENA) held a workshop on December 28th to discuss the recommendations regarding the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. Around 40 stakeholders joined the MENA regional workshop; representing a large number of DCI MENA Sections, the child justice sector in Arab countries, civil society institutions and international organisations, in addition to the participation of Benoit Van Keirsbilck, incoming member of the CRC Committee.
The workshop’s pragmatic approach set the stage for a discussion which not only focused on exchanging views on the Global Study recommendations but also putting forward mechanisms to include these recommendations in national plans and policies as well as to consider the reality of children in conflict with the law in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, three case studies from Tunisia, Palestine and Jordan were presented to highlight the work that has been done during the pandemic for children in conflict with the law.
The participants approved a number of recommendations at the regional level, following a review of some of the Arab experiences in protecting the rights of children in conflict with the law amidst the pandemic.
Workshop recommendations on how to include the Global Study recommendations in national plans and policies
〉 Conduct a comprehensive and specialised review of the work of centres and institutions for children with disabilities in light of international standards of alternative care and the rights of children with disabilities.
〉 Develop the work of protection and alternative care centres for children, including institutions for unaccompanied children, in terms of services provided, complaints mechanisms, monitoring systems, and periodic review of the placement conditions.
〉 Governmental and non-governmental institutions to enhance parenting care and prevent family separation in order to promote alternatives to placement.
〉 Promote the preventive aspect of protection from violence.
〉 Develop and improve the reintegration of children into their communities and families.
〉 Promote child participation and respect children’s views, based on their maturity and age, when making the decision to place them in protection centres or institutions in accordance with informed practical guidelines.
〉 Find alternatives to protection institutions and institutions for children with disabilities by providing the necessary support to families, both psychologically and socially, or economically empowering them to take care of their children.
〉 Civil society institutions to train children and those working with children on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on individual complaints and communications procedures.
〉 Form committees from the child justice parties and civil society institutions, develop a plan to incorporate the recommendations of the Study in the national plans, and hold a meeting after three months to discuss the plans and priorities adopted at the national level.
Recommendations to protect children in conflict with the law amidst the Covid-19 pandemic
〉 Adopt alternatives to detention and reduce the number of children in places of detention.
〉 Seek social alternatives such as mediation so that minors will not spend long periods of time in the justice system.
〉 Approve procedures that reduce the period of litigation in juvenile cases by setting a time period for adjudicating cases.
〉 Hold sessions remotely while ensuring the juvenile’s right to obtain legal advice and assistance, and provide the legislative environment for that after obtaining official approval and ensuring the due process of fair trial guarantees.
〉 Provide facilities to hold sessions in juvenile care homes to spare minors the trouble of moving; mostly in countries where there are no specialised juvenile courts or means of transportation to separate them from adults during the trial.
〉 Adopt protection measures for detained children by avoiding overcrowding in places of detention.
〉 Maintain family contact, remotely, during the pandemic via social media, as well as in-person communication in cases requiring long periods of detention, such as murder cases.
〉 Establish a health protocol for places of detention to maintain communication between children and their families.
〉 Establish a mechanism for children to obtain fair trial guarantees, without prejudice to their rights to expeditious determination, contact lawyer during detention, and communicate with civil society institutions authorised to conduct supervisory visits within clear safety measures.
〉 Secure children’s right to obtain health information about disease prevention, just as children outside places of detention, and provide materials that allow them to protect themselves and prevent disease.
〉 Provide quarantine places for newly admitted children until the results come out.
〉 Ensure the right of children to receive vaccines once they are made available.