To Conduct an Assessment
of the Juvenile Justice Systems
in the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro
in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Prepared by Carol Conragan
Attorney at Law
The Aim and Objective
Sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), the following template has been developed as a comprehensive inquiry into all facets of a juvenile justice system. The template is designed to help assess whether juvenile justice policy, legislation, and practice reflects the international juvenile justice standards set forth in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). UNICEF will be using this template to assess the current status of the juvenile justice systems in the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro.
The child in conflict with the law is the subject of this inquiry. Behind the often-closed doors of a juvenile justice system, the rights of the child can be easily neglected or ignored. That is why UNICEF is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of this particular child. According to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules), “a juvenile is a child or young person who, under the respective legal systems, may be dealt with for an offence in a manner which is different from an adult.” (See Rule 2.2(a)). “An offence is any behaviour (act or omission) that is punishable by law under the respective legal systems.” (See Rule 2.2(b)). “A juvenile offender is a child or young person who is alleged to have committed or who has been found to have committed an offence.” (See Rule 2.2(c)).
To effectively determine whether this child’s rights are being promoted and protected, the template has been developed on the basis of several substantive documents, which address the CRC’s juvenile justice provisions. These documents are: 1) “Key Elements for Assessment and Analysis of Juvenile Delinquency, Children in Conflict with the Law and Juvenile Justice from a Child Rights Perspective”, by Geert Cappelaere, Child Protection Senior Advisor, UNICEF/Geneva, May 2001; 2) The Reporting Guidelines prepared by the U. N. Committee on the Rights of the Child; and 3) the UNICEF Implementation Handbook for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, January 1998, specifically the checklist for Articles 37 and 40.
The template, as based on the above documents, considers the phenomenon of children in conflict with the law, the legal and political framework, juvenile justice administration, social reintegration, and the reality of children in the juvenile justice system.
The Rights of the Child
In addition, the template reflects the relevant juvenile justice provisions set forth in the CRC. Article 37 of the CRC addresses issues of torture, degrading treatment, and deprivation of liberty. In addition, Article 37, among other things, protects children from unlawful or arbitrary arrest, detention, or imprisonment and requires that such measures be used only as a last resort and for the shortest possible period of time. Article 37, also sets forth certain due process rights, namely, the right to prompt access to legal counsel, the right to a timely decision and appeal.
Article 40 of the CRC addresses the administration of juvenile justice and stresses the positive rehabilitation of the child, thereby encouraging his or her successful re-entry into the community. Article 40 also further elaborates on the due process rights of the child in conflict with the law. In addition, Article 40 stresses that a child’s dignity and worth are to be respected and notes that the specific circumstances of each child’s case are an essential consideration throughout the legal process. Article 40 emphasises the importance...