Juvenile justice is an area where children’s rights are frequently violated. Since 2012, BICE has been running its "Childhood without bars" programme in 9 countries in Africa and Latin America.
Its aim is to promote the protection of children in conflict with the law and work for their school, socio-professional and family rehabilitation, through the promotion and defense of their fundamental rights.
The reality of children in conflict with the law
- More than one million children are currently in prison (source: UNICEF)
- Most children detainees have not committed serious crimes. Many of them have not even committed any criminal offense and are being detained pending trial (source: FDI International Institute for the Rights of the Child 2010)
- Infants and young children whose mother is incarcerated often live with her in prison (source: FDI International Institute for the Rights of the Child 2010)
- Some children are in prison for discriminatory reasons such as religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinions. (Source: FDI International Institute of Human Child 2010)
The “Childhood without bars” programme focuses on the development and promotion of juvenile justice systems and “restorative” practices consistent with national, regional and international standards and with the rights of the child.
What is restorative justice?
“Restorative justice focuses primarily on diversion, alternatives to deprivation of liberty and measures of family reintegration, social and professional.
Studies have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of deprivation of liberty, especially for children in conflict with the law. There is also evidence that in the majority of cases, prison does not play its educational role. Even worse, it damages more than it corrects.
Deprivation of liberty promotes recidivism, limits children’s resilience and undermines their chances of professional rehabilitation.
Although under the Convention on the Rights of the Child deprivation of liberty is intended as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, it should be an exception, rather than the rule. “ (Extract from the Final Declaration of the International Congress of BICE on juvenile justice in 2013)
BICE acts for the protection of children in conflict with the law
The “Childhood without Bars” programme acts in five ways:
1. On a political and legal level
Strengthening the application of alternative measures to imprisonment through training of those involved in the juvenile justice system, civil servants and social workers.
2. On an institutional and social level
Encouraging institutional bodies and civil society to integrate a restorative approach in public policies and in the welfare system.
3. With the child, its family and community
Providing psychological, nutritional and health support as well as legal assistance. Promoting vocational training, by developing partnerships for children in conflict with the law. These activities are carried out with the child’s family.
4. With the media
Informing the general public about the benefits of alternative measures to deprivation of liberty. Destigmatizing the child in conflict with the law through public awareness campaigns and the creation of a perception survey (in French) conducted in 10 countries.
5. With regional and international advocacy
Consolidating restorative justice practices, promoting the development of juvenile justice systems and providing better protection for children, through an analysis of the different judicial systems and seminars on best practices.