9 March 2017 - Algeria has made a leap forward in protecting children victims of violence and those who are at risk of it, by passing a law in this regard. In this context, UNODC's Justice Section and the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) recently carried out a specialized training in the North African country which included interactive dialogues between the different actors of the justice system, and in which participants highlighted the importance of working in a multi-disciplinary fashion across institutions.
Following the United Nations (UN) Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Children in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the UN Guidelines on Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime, UNODC shared examples and experiences from other countries around the world and the region during the training, and practitioners from Belgium and Lebanon shared their hands-on experience on issues such as child development, impact of victimization on children, and videotaped interviewing techniques of child victims.
At the opening of the event, it was noted that despite the fact that countries in the MENA region have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and have enacted or proposed laws to protect children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, there is still a wide gap between the national laws and their application on the ground. Accordingly, specialists in the field of children, together with doctors, lawyers and representatives of civil society have an important role to play in ensuring that these laws are put in place for the best interests of the child.
At the end of the three-day training, the participants - police officers, members of the Gendarmerie, judges and prosecutors - agreed that the workshop came at the right moment. Its conclusions were reflected in the following priorities going forward:
1. Development of guides and tools to raise awareness on the new law amongst all child protection actors as well as children and their families;
2. Development of procedural manuals for all justice and child protection actors to guide them when handling cases of child victims;
3. Facilitation of training to juvenile police on interviewing techniques of child victims, including victims of sexual crimes and regional and international experiences in this area and training-of-trainers to be used to protect and assist child victims;
4. Facilitation of multi-disciplinary workshops to be held together with the national delegate on child protection on child victims and take measures to strengthen cooperation must be implemented; and
5. Building of capacity on after-care, assistance and social and financial compensation for child victims of crime.
With activities like this, UNODC strengthens its support to Algeria in protecting and assisting child victims of crime to prevent secondary victimisation and ensure their reintegration into society.