Justice for Children Roundtable

10th April 2012, Ministry Of Justice, Cairo, Egypt

Seeking to coordinate national efforts to ensure that children have access to justice before, during and after contact with the law, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, UNODC and Terres des homes organized the "Justice for Children Roundtable".  Representatives from 21 governmental actors, non-governmental actors and development partners gathered together for the two-day Roundtable, hosted at the Ministry of Justice during the period 10 and 11 April 2012.

Participants in the forum worked together to gain a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges of promoting justice for children in Egypt, to encourage and initiate enhanced coordination among actors that address justice for children and to agree on priority areas for future intervention.

Justice Minister, Counselor Adel Abdel Hameed Abd Allah, UNODC Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa, Mr. Massood Karimipour and Terres des hommes Regional Representative, Mr. Yann Colliou inaugurated the forum.

While affirming his full support to the Department for Child Judicial Protection, mandated to coordinate all stakeholders' efforts, the Minister reiterated his commitment to coordinate efforts among the three Ministries concerned (Interior, Justice and Social Affairs)  with a view to pursuing a more harmonized and integrated approach to improving the situation of children in contact with the law.

Stressing the importance of an effective justice for children system in Egypt, UNODC Regional Representative, Mr. Masood Karimipour stated that 'When dealing with children we are dealing not only with a case but a fragile young person, perhaps dispossessed or disowned. How we treat the juvenile indicates to him how society values him. How he emerges from the justice system may well shape him for the rest of his life. Thus, we have an obligation to more than process the case, but to restore and rehabilitate the juvenile since soon he will be an adult: either as a productive member of society or a burden to it. The justice system can positively influence that outcome.'

After highlighting key statistics from the 2006 UN Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children, Mr. Yann Colliou emphasized "that abuse and neglect are a major problem in any culture and any society." He reaffirmed that "no single one organization or sector can address child protection alone. It requires strong partnerships to make a difference."

During the two-day discussions, presentations were given, best practice models were studied and participants were divided into working groups that were each assigned to tackle a specific issue related to justice for children. The Roundtable was concluded with a presentation of the recommendations of each working group.

UNODC has been providing the Ministry of Justice in Egypt with technical assistance in the field of Juvenile Justice since 2003 leading to many concrete achievements and a number of pioneering reforms.