UNODC together with the Department of Juvenile Justice, Ministry of Home Affairs co-organized a national Training of Trainers on Juvenile Justice in the Republic of Maldives in Male, Maldives. The multi-disciplinary capacity building event brought together 28 participants from a broad range of national stakeholders that come into contact with children in conflict with the law. During the activity, UNODC international experts provide comprehensive guidance to trainers on how to deliver multi-disciplinary essential training to different actors of the justice system to support them in their professional functions to prevent and respond effectively to violence against children in the context of juvenile justice, in particular in light of the entry into force of the Juvenile Justice Act in November 2020.
When concluding the event, Mr. Ali Nazeer, Minister of State for Home Affairs, congratulated participants on this important initiative and announced the creation of a new national training committee that will ensure sustainability of training efforts and the application of a holistic approach to the protection of children in conflict with the law in the future.
The Department of Juvenile Justice of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of Maldives and UNODC organized a workshop aimed to strengthen the capacity of professionals on assessment of children in conflict with the law as per the Juvenile Justice Act of the Republic of Maldives. Mr. Ali Nazeer, State Minister State for Home Affairs, opened the event and expressed the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Maldives to the uphold child rights and protect children who are in contact with the justice system.
The workshop focuses on how to conduct assessment processes while preserving the best interests of the child and ensuring that all communication and decisions linked to the assessment are made with the ultimate goal of fostering the child's psychosocial development into young adulthood, including physical and mental health, and ensuring the child’s effective recovery and reintegration.
The participation of Ms. Hunana Latheef, Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, and Ms. Shazeena Saeed, Director at the Department of Juvenile Justice, contributed to interesting discussions about methodology and tools to conduct assessments of children in conflict with the law. Juvenile justice officers who brought their expertise and experience, engaged in fruitful and open exchanges about the development of assessment tools as per the newly adopted Juvenile Justice Act.
UNODC organized the two-day Capacity Building Event 'Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups in the Republic of Maldives: An Emerging Phenomenon' in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of Maldives. On this occasion, 42 national professionals working on the pressing issue of child association with terrorist and violent extremist groups in the Maldives were introduced to strategies and tools for effective treatment of these children in three key areas: prevention of child recruitment; rehabilitation and reintegration; and, justice responses. Based on a participant-centered methodology, the event was also designed to facilitate a multi-disciplinary dialogue between these professionals on how to implement strategies to address the emerging challenges.
On 20 November 2020, the international community celebrated the 31st anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. For the Republic of Maldives, this day represented a historic moment as it marked the entry into force of its recently adopted 2019 Juvenile Justice Act.
UNODC has been working together with the Government in preparing the entry into force and the implementation of this comprehensive new national legal framework in the area of juvenile justice, which presents a milestone for children’s rights in the country.
Building on the Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA) on Juvenile Justice conducted online earlier in the year, the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence against Children teamed up with the Judicial Academy of the Maldives to deliver an ad hoc online training session for judges and magistrates from different atolls and courts throughout the Maldives. The training session focused on international law and standards in the area of juvenile justice while engaging in discussions about their practical implementation in national law, and more specifically, under the 2019 Juvenile Justice Act.
The initiative comes at a particularly timely moment as it will allow UNODC to better tailor its assistance to the Government during this important reform and pursue areas for further cooperation.
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A virtual High-Level Round Table was held with national counterparts from the Republic of Maldives to present preliminary findings and opportunities of the Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA) on Juvenile Justice conducted online by UNODC.
The assessment aims to support the Government’s efforts in the ongoing reform of the juvenile justice system. The Republic of Maldives was one of the first States to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. Since then, the Government has taken significant steps to better protect and serve children in contact with the law and as part of an ongoing comprehensive reform of the juvenile justice system, the Juvenile Justice Act and the Child Rights Protection Act were adopted in 2019.
During the Round Table, Honourable Mr. Ali Nazeer, Minister of State for Home Affairs, thanked UNODC by stating that "the Government of Maldives is keen to invest its resources to prevent children from coming into conflict with the law" and concluded on his "country's commitment to reform the juvenile justice sector (...).”
Terrorism is a global threat that disproportionately affects children. On 3 March 2020 high-level representatives from Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines gathered in Bali in an event co-organised by Japan, Indonesia and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reached political consensus on the urgency to tackle child recruitment and its consequences on children’s lives.
Opening the Event, the representative from Japan presented the value of the UNODC Roadmap for the guidance it contains on how to prevent child involvement with terrorist groups and how to rehabilitate and reintegrate these children. He pledged Japan’s continued support to countries for the implementation of the Roadmap.
In her remarks, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ms. Bensouda, stated: “I applaud the UNODC Roadmap, which recognizes the need to work together and highlights areas closely linked to the mandate of my Office and of the Court, such as prevention and justice.” She also stressed the need to hold perpetrators of serious crimes against children accountable.
Building on its dual mandate on violence against children (VAC) and counter-terrorism, UNODC has been assisting countries facing these challenges for the past five years. Alexandra Martins, coordinator of the UNODC Global Programme to End VAC, expressed how "children associated with terrorist groups are to be considered and treated primarily as victims”, highlighting that “investing in their rehabilitation and reintegration is not an alternative to security, but a pre-requirement because there is no dichotomy between preserving public safety and protecting children”.
During the event, participants discussed key areas of intervention, and benefitted from the contribution of a psychosocial expert from the ICC. She emphasized the importance of medical, social and psychological support adapted to the circumstances and needs of these children, providing technical advice on how to integrate such support in their treatment.
High-level discussions led to the identification of priority actions at national level. Representatives from Malaysia stressed education and awareness-raising as key components of any effective prevention strategy to protect children from recruitment. The Filipino delegation highlighted the need to ensure that children who are in a situation of armed conflict are treated according to international law, as also reflected in the Key Principles of the Roadmap. One of the areas on intervention identified by the Government was the need to equip frontline officers with child-sensitive training and child-friendly communication skills.
The Government of Indonesia illustrated current efforts towards the rehabilitation and reintegration of children affected by terrorism. As a result of the Event, Indonesia took a step ahead and officially launched the “Bali Call for Action”, a political declaration which endorses the UNODC Roadmap and commits to translate it into action at the national level. With this initiative, Indonesia also called upon Member States to join this historical declaration as a unique opportunity to adopt a common approach to protect children from terrorism.
Finally, the delegation from the Maldives endorsed the “Bali Call for Action”, underlining how these political commitments will be instrumental to addressing the situation of children affected by the Foreign Terrorist Fighters phenomenon. As a result of these advances, the Maldivian government requested UNODC’s assistance to become the first pilot country in the world to implement the UNODC Roadmap.