10 January 2011 - More than one million children world wide are deprived of their liberty by law enforcement officials when under arrest or awaiting trial, according to figures released by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
UNODC and UNICEF continue to collaborate to push for reforms in justice for children in order to enhance the capacity of law enforcement officers, social workers and justice actors to cater specifically to children as witnesses, victims and those in conflict with the law, in accordance with the Guidance Note of the Secretary General entitled UN Approach to Justice for Children.
The objective of this collaboration is to strengthen juvenile justice systems to promote reforms and to protect the rights of child victims and witnesses within justice systems worldwide. As part of the collaborative efforts, the two organizations have issued a number of joint tools, based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations standards and norms on juvenile justice and the United Nations Guidelines on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime, which were adopted by the Economic and Social Council in 2005.
A Manual for the Measurement of Juvenile Justice Indicators introduces fifteen juvenile justice indicators and how measuring these indicators can contribute to the protection of the child. It also offers practical guidance and tools for information collection, information collation and calculation of the indicators. Following the release of the manual, the two offices have carried out training of professionals and policy makers in Europe (Brussels) and West Africa (Benin) to increase knowledge, cooperation and coherence in key aspects of juvenile justice reform in these regions. Other regional workshops took place in Morocco, Bulgaria, Jordan and Nepal. In total, 243 participants from 35 countries have been trained.
A child-friendly version of the Guidelines on child victims and witnesses, a Model Law and related commentary and a Handbook have also been published. In the beginning of 2011, UNODC and UNICEF will issue a set of online training modules aimed at law enforcement professionals, health professionals, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, social workers and informal justice providers working with child victims and witnesses of crime.
Noting that alternatives to detention and diversion from judicial proceedings are essential to ensure that rights of children conflict with the law are protected, and in conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF has issued a Toolkit on Diversion and Alternatives to Detention. The toolkit provides clear, user-friendly guidance and practical tools for those who work in the area of juvenile justice.