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Defending Children within Juvenile Justice System

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 9 2012 (IPS) - Children vulnerable to violence within the juvenile justice system must have access to justice, the United Nations said in a new report released here.

The study,  tltled ‘’Prevention of and Responses to Violence against Children Within the Juvenile Justice System,” was a collaborative effort of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (SRSG).

The report is ‘’is designed to strengthen the protection of children from violence whenever they are in contact with the juvenile justice system and above all it aims to prevent any incident of violence from occurring in the first place,’’ said Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children.

At a high-level panel discussion, which followed the launch of the report, representatives of Austria, United States, Norway, and the Council of Europe shared their experiences in trying to work towards making a fair juvenile system a high priority.

In the attempt to ensure that children have access to justice and are protected by any form of violence, the report was built on the standards of ‘‘the findings and recommendation of the United Nations study on violence against children and also on the important international legal instrument adopted by the international community on human rights and administration of justice,’’ said Pais.

However ‘‘as much as we celebrate this standards, the fact is that the reality on the ground is very different for the majority of children around the world,’’ she added.  ‘‘At least one million of children around the world are deprived of liberty,’’ stated Pais.

Charles Radcliffe, chief of OHCHR’s global issues section, said: ‘‘The main objective of any juvenile justice system should be to promote reintegration into society, treating the child in a matter that reinforces his or her own sense of worth and dignity. Repressive systems are not appropriate for children.’’

The theme ‘‘Research and Data in the Defending Childhood Initiative’’ presented by Phelan Wyrick, Senior Advisor, Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice of the United States of America – noted the importance of the use of research and data to address the issue of children exposed to violence.

Furthermore, Christian Strohal, Permanent Representative of Austria to the U.N., noted that violence against children in the juvenile justice system is an issue of global concern.

‘‘It is very much a vicious circle. Once a juvenile gets into juvenile justice the likelihood that they would offend again and again is increasing exponentially,’’ he added.

Therefore, he plans to respond to this report and other reports made on this subject by presenting a strategic draft resolution on human rights in the administration of justice at the General Assembly, hoping that it will develop a model which can be used by governments.

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