On the morning of May 5th, in Phuket (Thailand), the Second Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Council for Juvenile Justice (APCJJ) was officially inaugurated. The meeting takes place from the 5th to the 8th of May under the title ‘Toward Child-Friendly Justice in the Asia-Pacific Region: Alternatives to Detention and Restorative Justice for Children’.
In the course of the opening ceremony Mr. Veerayuth Sukcharoen, Director General of the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection of Thailand, introduced the Deputy Secretary General of the Thai Ministry of Justice, Mr. Charnchao Chaiyanukij, who welcomed the audience by highlighting the importance of providing comprehensive care, and a continuum of it, to children who are in contact with the justice system. He expressed his gratitude to the International Juvenile Justice Observatory for launching the APCJJ, an ongoing opportunity for juvenile justice professionals to build specific child-friendly competencies, and to enhance trans-national cooperation.
Then, the IJJO Chairman, Dr. Francisco Legaz, welcomed all participants and expressed his gratitude to the representatives of the institutions who have coorganised and supported the Second APCJJ Meeting. In his words, this event represented a crucial chance to “consolidate the Council as an advocacy platform to promote the sharing of knowledge and team-work in the development of juvenile justice systems in the region”, and therefore "improve the lives of children and young people who come into contact with the law".
Ms. Margaret Akullo, Programme Coordinator at UNODC, Ms Grace Agcaoili, Regional Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF, and Mr. Natee Chitsawang, the deputy director of the Thailand Institute of Justice, represented the different bodies that supported and contributed to the organisation of the four-day event, and greeted the participants, hoping that this Meeting would be an opportunity to further build trans-national collaborations and exchange of good practices.
During the morning session, Ms. Alexandra Martins, Crime Prevention Officer with UNODC, presented the ‘United Nations Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against children in the field of crime prevention and criminal Justice’, in which the IJJO participated as part of the expert group. The 17 selected strategies, sponsored by 44 governments, covered: general prevention, the capacity of the justice system to respond to violence against children, and in particular for those in contact with the justice system. This latest normative instrument contributed to the creation of momentum and enhanced the States’ incentives to address an issue that is too often neglected.
The last plenary panel saw the participation of Ms Datin Paduka Intan, Brunei Chair of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children, Mr. Kazi Reazul Hoque, Chair of the Child Rights Committee, from Bangladesh, and Mr. Alasdair Roy, Children and Young people Commissioner in Australia. In addition, Ms Grace Agcaoili presented the main content of the Optional Protocol n.3, introducing the CRC recommendations concerning violence against children, on behalf of Ms Yasmeen Shariff, member of the CRC. The panellists provided a variety of national and organisational approaches to the monitoring of violence against children.
In the afternoon, under the guidance of Dr Geeta Sekhon, UNODC, the guests participated in the first training session of the APCJJ Meeting, which included a panel discussion, as well as a participative exchange. The training session was designed to provide a concrete dialogue to address violence against children in the practice.