TURKEY: Ministers join forces towards child-friendly justice

Summary: The Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, as well as several other partners such as the Justice Academy of Turkey, are joining forces to roll out a 3,15 Million “Justice for Children” project, funded by the EU and supported by UNICEF, to enhance the protection of children’s rights within the justice system.

The number of reported offences committed by and against minors has peaked in recent years, forcing Turkey to rethink the protection and prosecution of children so that their  contact with the justice system becomes a positive and supportive experience and that they can ultimately assume a constructive role in society.

The project includes enhanced coordination between responsible agencies, exposure to international best practices, the establishment of child-friendly procedures, facilities and equipment, upgraded training programs, and contemporary case-management and conditional release schemes for children in detention.

Head of the Central Finance and Contracts Unit Mr. Muhsin Altun informed participants about the infrasturucture of the project,  “ Justice for Children Project in where the CFCU is the Contracting Authority, is supported within the scope of 2010 Financing Agreement signed between the EU Commission and Turkey and has a duration of 24-months and budget of approximately 3.15M EURO”.

Mr. Altun said, “The Project has two components, namely “Direct Grant” and “Supply”. For the Direct Grant component, CFCU and UNICEF signed a contract with a budget of 3.15 M EUR on 03.01.2012. Under the Supply component, whose tender preparation is under way, equipment with a budget of 600.000 EUR will be purchased for the interview rooms to be established in line with the international standards for children in 160 courthouses and for implementing “Individualized Treatment System” (BISIS).”

Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert , Head of EU Delegation to Turkey,  emphasized the importance of juvenile justice in Turkey, “We strongly believe that as part of the necessary reforms and alignment with EU standards and practices, the Turkish justice system needs to be become more child and youth friendly and thus develop more alternatives to detention. As a result, young people in conflict with the law will get another chance to build a successful life, which also benefits society as a whole.”  Ripert added that “the EU will continue to support innovation in the field of juvenile justice during the preparation of the EU accession and we are happy to see so many Government Institutions working together towards addressing those important challenges."

During his speech at the opening ceremony, UNICEF Turkey Representative Dr. Ayman Abulaban stated that, “Making justice for children a reality is not only our dream; it is also our obligation under national and international human rights law. It is very good news, and a very positive signal given to society and to the European Union, that key ministries are willing to join forces to try and fulfil this obligation, while at the same time a new independent entity – the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors – can be involved both as a moral authority and as an expert body in the partnership.”

These activities meet the promise of the national Judicial Reform Strategy that: ‘the development of a new juvenile justice system to protect children in civil and criminal law will continue’. As it is held in the Strategy that ‘punishment is the last resort for child offenders’, the project will contribute to overcoming the problems arising from arrest and imprisonment of children. Also, The Strategy also foresees that ‘separation of children from their parents shall be the last measure’. This is why the project will explore ways of making better use of non-custodial measures and sentences, rehabilitation services and conditional release.

Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Sahin underlined the fact the right of the child should be protected under all circumstances. Sahin said, “international law states that protecting child rights and the rights of disadvantaged people should be a priority. At our Ministry, we engage in micro and individualized solutions rather than macro level ones. As we all know, strong children are the seeds of a strong community, which is why the results of this project are very important for us.”

Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin stated during the Project launch that  “The Ministry of Justice, our detention management policy does not only consist of having persons under detention complete their sentence, at the same time, our goal is to provide services to persons under detention for them to reintegrate into the society. With this goal in mind, we make sure that children under detention continue their education, gain hobbies and engage in socio-cultural activities that help enhance their personalities, and provide them with the support services they need.”

Turkey has made steady progress on children’s rights in the last 10 years, yet for many of these measures not to remain purely on paper, in their respective mandates and capacities, MoJ and MoFSP will cooperate under the Justice for Children Project.

Further Information:

pdf: http://www.unicef.org.tr/en/content/article/960/ministers-join-forces-to...


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.