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30 December 2014 | 23:05

Juvenile Justice: BICE International Congress – 2013

In June 2013, our congress took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris. It was devoted to juvenile justice and was entitled: "Juvenile Justice, what socio-educational approach?"

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides that each country adopts a specific justice system for children and adolescents. Yet in this area, much remains to be done to defend the rights of these children come true. The 2013 conference was based including the experience gained from the BICE program Childhood without bars.

Today, according to UNICEF, 1.1 million children in the world are in prison. Faced with this alarming situation, BICE chose Juvenile Justice to be the theme of for its International Conference in 2013.

  • For many, prison represents horrifying and disgraceful living conditions, as well as mistreatment that is on the border of torture. June 26, the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, is the occasion to reflect on this reality.
  • For almost all – often children awaiting verdicts or imprisonment for minor offenses – confinement encourages recidivism.

The 2013 BICE’s International Congress was part of an expansive program, Childhood without Bars, developed in 9 countries across Latin America and Africa. Its objective is to promote social and familial reintegration of children who are in conflict with the law, with particular emphasis on restorative justice.

Participants and activities of the day

Under the sponsorship of Professor Maria Falcone, sister of Judge Falcone, the Congress brought together many important figures in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris such as Francois Zimeray, Ambassador for Human Rights, and Marie Derain, Defender of Children.

This day was open to all and brought together personalities from the world of justice and human rights with European and international experts who were able to draw parallels between the juvenile justice systems of Latin American, Africa and Europe. At round tables, speakers described and analyzed the realities of different countries, sparking rich discussions with the public.

More than 200 people took part in the lectures and advocacy for social and family reintegration of children in conflict with the law, with a particular emphasis on restorative justice*.

*”Restorative justice focuses primarily on diversion, alternatives to deprivation of liberty and measures of family reintegration, both social and professional. Several studies have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the deprivation of liberty, especially for children who are in conflict with the law.

There is also evidence that in most cases, prison does not play its educational role and, even worse, it does more damage and creates no progress. The deprivation of liberty promotes recidivism, reducing the potential resilience of children and undermines their chances of socio-professional reintegration.

Although the deprivation of liberty is presented under the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a measure of last resort and for the shortest period of time possible, it should be an action that falls within the exception and not the principle. ”

Excerpt from the final Declaration of BICE’s International Congress on Juvenile Justice in 2013.  

Statements Congress on Juvenile justice