PODGORICA, MARCH 21, 2011 – After four months of the implementation of the project “Promotion of Victim/Offender Mediation for Juveniles in Conflict with the Law” participants of the discussion held in Podgorica concluded that mediation is the best way of resolving the cases involving children in conflict with a law.
Centre for Mediation and the Ministry of Justice implemented the project with UNICEF’s technical assistance and financial support of the One UN Country Funds. The project was implemented in Podgorica, Nikšić, Bar and Bijelo Polje. As a result, in each municipality, mediation started to be applied to cases involving children in conflict with the law.
The project promotes the use of alternative measures in juvenile cases in harmony with the article 40 of the UN CRC, which encourages States to establish, whenever appropriate, alternative measures for dealing with children in conflict with the law without resorting to judicial proceedings.
UNICEF Representative in Montenegro, Ms. Noala Skinner said that research shows that classical judicial proceedings and putting children in closed or semi-closed institutions, in most cases does not prevent children from re-offending.
‘‘Through mediation several important things are achieved: first, rehabilitation of the child is facilitated and so, the risk of re-offending in the future is reduced; second, the victim has a better chance to overcome the trauma; and third, operational efficiency of the judiciary system is increased as courts are disburdened and long judicial proceedings are avoided,’’ said UNICEF Representative Ms Skinner.
President of the Supreme Court of Montenegro Ms. Vesna Medenica emphasized great importance of promotion of Victim/Offender Mediation for the rights of children in conflict with the law.
She stated that children have the right to life, non-discrimination and optimal growth and development in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Beijing Rules which call for special consideration of children`s rights in all procedures that affect them. She also said that mediation provides the child with an opportunity to decide how to deal with consequences of his/her behavior and to realize how it will influence their life in a future. As a former judge for juveniles who worked in this capacity for many years Medenica strongly advocates for application of alternative ways of conflict resolution and used this opportunity to emphasize the importance of mediation not only for children in conflict with the law, but for victims and society as a whole.
Deputy Minister of Justice Ms. Branka Lakocevic explained that juvenile delinquency happens due to a number of circumstances, such as inadequate parenting and poor socio-economic circumstances. Lakocevic claims that it is necessary to find special ways to conduct proceedings involving children and that it is important that those children should always be given a second chance.
’’The needs of juveniles must be taken into account during the proceedings while social response should be focused on educational measures and assistance in working on elimination of the causes of unlawful conduct and preventing of criminal acts,’’ said Lakocevic.
Currently there are 55 mediators in Montenegro licensed by the Ministry of Justice to conduct Victim/Offender Mediation. Mediation can be applied to criminal offences for which a fine or imprisonment up to five years is prescribed by the law.
Through the reform of the juvenile justice system, most recently supported by UNICEF and the EU, Montenegro is heading towards implementing international standards in this area.