A Youthful Drive for Change: Preventing Crimes and Facilitating the Reintegration of Youth in Conflict with the Law in Mauritania

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Each year, police services apprehend thousands of children and young individuals. The reasons that drag these young people into conflict with the law are diverse: poverty, single-parent households, school dropout, unemployment, limited career prospects, drug usage, to name a few. After facing the justice system, they often experience further stigmatization and marginalization by society and their own families, resulting in a lack of opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Faced with these challenges, youth associations have demonstrated their effectiveness. They have highlighted their crucial role in infusing vitality and dedication to enhance the well-being of these young individuals.

The collaborative initiative between UNODC and ILO, titled 'Preventing Violent Extremism through Empowerment of Youth in Conflict with the Law and Enhancing Access to Rights and Justice', has played a pivotal role in spotlighting youth associations’ potential. UNODC and ILO enhanced the capabilities of 99 youth associations in the areas of crime prevention, juvenile justice, and the reintegration of youth entangled in legal conflicts. Financial and technical assistance was extended to 9 of these associations to implement projects focused on crime reduction and providing support to children in conflict with the law.

Among the standout initiatives implemented by youth associations following the project’s support:

  • The organization "Hands Off My Sister" has trained young individuals in Nouakchott in citizen journalism, encouraging them to create their own video content addressing children's rights;
  • The group "Young Mediators for Peace" has enhanced the sense of civic belonging through cultural endeavors like traditional dance, while "APEFAS" has put in place a literacy program targeted at children in conflict with the law ;
  • "Young Scouts" has successfully coordinated scout camps where activities were centered around environment ; 
  • The association "Peer Educators" has directed its focus towards sports as a means of personal development ;
  • "Act for Our Underprivileged Children" has collaborated with families to raise awareness regarding their crucial role in safeguarding their children ;
  • "Association of Young Volunteers for Development" has spearheaded community awareness campaigns concerning the perils of drug use in Kiffa ;
  • The association "Entou" has skillfully organized multiple theater sessions involving the children from the Centre d'Accueil et de Réinsertion des Enfants en Conflit avec la Loi in Kiffa ;
  • "Association of Women Education and Awareness Ambassadors" has provided valuable psychosocial support sessions for children in conflict with the law.

Youth associations have been equipped with the capacities to effectively interact with young individuals in conflict with the law and create successful rehabilitation programs.

As a result, young individuals in conflict with the law have been able to acquire new skills, identify positive aspirations for their future, and nurture a renewed sense of self-esteem. By cultivating strong bonds between these associations and young individuals in conflict with the law, the project has established an impactful network with the aim of facilitating their sustainable reintegration into society.

Furthermore, the fruitful partnership between youth associations and the Government of Mauritania, facilitated by UNODC, has opened up new avenues to focus further efforts on empowering young individuals, curbing delinquency, and cultivate positive values among them.

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This initiative was made possible thanks to the financial support of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).

In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 16 « Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for Sustainable Development provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels», the project aligns and fosters the objective of UNODC's Africa Strategic Vision 2030 of strengthening Africa's responses to drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, terrorism, corruption, and illicit financial flows.