Switzerland supports Bulgaria in the reform of the juvenile justice system in line with the international standards. The progress of this reform will be presented and discussed at the final conference of the five-year Project “Strengthening the legal and institutional capacity of the judicial system in the field of juvenile justice” on 25 September 2018 (Tuesday) in Sofia.
“Children are our future and we must constantly improve legislative frameworks to safeguard their rights”, says the Ambassador of Switzerland, Mrs. Muriel Berset Kohen, who will address the forum jointly with the Bulgarian Minister of Justice, Mrs. Tsetska Tsacheva.
Started back in 2012 with a budget of 860,000 Swiss francs, of which 85% is contributed by Switzerland, the project aimed to ensure that all children who have come in contact with the justice system in Bulgaria as perpetrators, victims or witnesses of crime or for any other reasons are treated in line with the European and international standards for children-friendly law enforcement. Furthermore, the philosophy behind the efforts for reforming the juvenile justice is that children violating the law should be given a “second chance”, which is good for both, the children and the society.
The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice is executes the project in partnership with the International Institute for the Rights of Children (IDE) – Switzerland and Swiss magistrates.
Specialized juvenile court teams, formed under the project, are active in five courts across the country. In addition, 12 “blue” rooms, specialized facilities for non-stressful interviewing of children victims or witnesses of crime, as well as young offenders were set up in the cities of Varna, Vratsa, Dobrich, Razgrad, Smolyan, Haskovo, Lovech, Targovishte, Silistra, Pleven, Kardzhali and Kozluduy. More than 200 magistrates, police officers and social workers have attended trainings on the international standards for the juvenile justice. A manual on the juvenile justice is available both printed and online to guide them in juvenile justice cases.
The project assisted also the drafting of new Juvenile Justice Act that shall transpose main principles of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Bulgaria in 1991, and contemporary practice in Bulgarian legislation.
The project is part of the Thematic Fund Security of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme. In total 11 initiatives – including juvenile justice and juvenile delinquency - are supported within the framework of the Fund with Swiss contribution to the total budget of 9,850,000 Swiss francs.