Fourth day of the APCJJ Meeting

The fourth and last day of the APCJJ Second Meeting was designed as a policy oriented event, during which the participants engaged in a roundtable discussion on the future projects and activities of the Asia-Pacific Council for Juvenile Justice.

The IJJO Chairman, Dr Francisco Legaz, and Dr Kattiya Rattanadilok, of the Thai Ministry of Justice’s Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection, welcomed the participants on this last day, thanking them for their active participation, which was crucial to the success of the Meeting.

Following this, Mr Cédric Foussard, the IJJO Director of International Affairs, briefly presented the International Juvenile Justice Observatory mission and activities, and the role of its Continental Councils, specialised networks that bring together the knowledge and initiatives of juvenile justice experts in different regions, such as the APCJJ.

Throughout the course of the day, the APCJJ Members took part in a roundtable consultation which addressed the different themes tackled in the APCJJ Roadmap, moderated by Mr Cédric Foussard and Ms Giulia Melotti, of the IJJO staff.

The first topics of the day were the role, main purposes, and development of the Asia-Pacific Council . In particular, the IJJO Secretariat clarified the importance of the membership formalisation process, and proposed a communication strategy based on the circulation of a newsletter dedicated to relevant news concerning juvenile justice in the region, and the latest initiatives of APCJJ members.

Later on, the consultation focused on four different subjects, and on the potential APCJJ activities in these areas: restorative justice, effective investment in child-friendly reform, advocacy and cross-border cooperation between law enforcement and judiciary bodies.

The group focused on the effectiveness of juvenile restorative processes, analysing how to best foster an evidence-based approach from the stage of legislation to actual implementation. A working group, with the participation of representatives from, among others, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, was created to tackle the issue and draft a position paper on behalf of the APCJJ, which will be later discussed by the entire group.

The proposal of a cost-effective approach to investment in prevention, diversion and inclusion sparked an interesting debate on the relevance of detailed and tailored advocacy, and an evidence-based approach to policy making. Various participants and the UNODC representative Alexandra Martins underlined the importance of more in-depth research and data collection on the benefits, including economically, of a child-friendly approach to justice.

Thanks to the participation of Justice Imman Ali, from the Supreme Court, Bangladesh and Ms Barthi Ali, from the HAQ Centre for Child Rights in India, the participants also analysed the opportunity of promoting advocacy at international, regional and transnational level, through the Council. In particular, Justice Imman Ali, after emphasising the relevance of the APCJJ as a bridge between nations and stakeholders, proposed to advocate in favour of an International Court for Children’s Rights.

Finally, special attention was paid to cross-border cases, which is especially relevant for the political cooperation of ASEAN countries. The representatives of the different States and the presentations of Mr Christian Ranheim of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and Mr Apichart Jarusiri, Inspector from the DJOP, stressed the necessity of developing a system of common minimum safeguards for juveniles who may come into contact with the justice system in a different country to their own. This vision reflected the ten crucial points on cross-border minimum guarantees proposed by the IJJO in the APCJJ Roadmap. The possibility of taking further action on this subject is being evaluated by the Members.

A few words from the IJJO Chairman and Mr Veerayuth Sukcharoen, Director General of the Department for Juvenile Observation and Protection of the Thai Ministry of Justice, closed the meeting, recalling the importance of trans-national cooperation and a regional approach to foster more child-friendly and fair justice systems.