Despite progress achieved to date by a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region regarding the promotion and protection of children’s rights in the administration of justice, many countries still face challenges related to the treatment of children who are in contact with the justice system either as alleged offenders, victims or witnesses of crime.
To assist countries in the region in the development of the reform initiatives underway, the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) established the Asia-Pacific Council for Juvenile Justice (APCJJ) with the objective of formulating recommendations on the development of juvenile justice in Asia, and to gather quantitative and qualitative information on the situation of children in conflict with the law.
The Asia-Pacific Council brings together representatives of competent public administrations in juvenile justice, universities, academic centres and NGOs with expertise in legislation, implementation, supervision, research and intervention in the field of juvenile justice and focuses especially on fostering implementation of international standards and principles, promoting evidence-based crime prevention policies, enhancing inter-institutional cooperation and developing trans-national strategies to ensure the respect of children’s rights in the administration of justice.
The Council first met in June 2012 to discuss child involvement in crime and crime-prevention programs in the region, and to formalise the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Council for Juvenile Justice. Following that meeting, the APCJJ published a report, A Voice for the Future of Juvenile Justice in Asia-Pacific. Introduction to the Asia Pacific Council for Juvenile Justice and Leading Juvenile Justice Reforms in the Region, which addressed detention conditions in the Asia-Pacific region, while promoting a preventive approach and restorative policies.
In September 2014, an APCJJ Subcommittee for South East Asian Nations was created and its first meeting was organised in Bangkok with representatives from the justice ministries and academia of eight ASEAN member states.
The APCJJ met for a second time in Phuket, Thailand, in May 2015. In the course of the event ‘Towards Child-Friendly Justice in the Asia-Pacific Region: Alternatives to detention and Restorative Justice for Children’, participants took part in thematic sessions and trainings, and discussed the future activities of the Council.