The Convention of the Rights of the Child forms the basis for all development of services for children and youth. One of its most important principles is to respect the views of the child. In order to know what is in the best interest of the child, it is logical to listen to them.

As a part of EU Twinning Project “Further Strengthening the Correctional and Probation Services in Kosovo”, we had the opportunity to put child rights into practice with Kosovar colleagues. This was done by listening to the views of the youth in analyzing and improving the current supervision and treatment programs of juveniles in conflict with the law.  Another aim was to develop an early identification and response system for juveniles at risk of coming in contact with the law.

Suitable methods for the Kosovar situation were developed by assessing the current use of institutional measures applied to juveniles placed in Lipjan educational-correctional center. Evaluation data was gathered by conducting interviews with officials who either work in Lipjan center or in close collaboration with the center. In addition, five juveniles placed in Lipjan center were interviewed.

The relevant legislation was observed with the intention to evaluate the rights of juveniles to rehabilitate themselves as intended in the law. Recommendations for further practice were suggested based on the information gathered from the interviews and written material.

More participation from the youth needed

The need of increasing juveniles’ participation and awareness of their own possibilities was obvious in Lipjan center. It was worrying that none of the interviewed juveniles were aware of their individual treatment plans, even though all of them supposedly have one.

Drafting an individual treatment plan together with the youth could  help them become more active in their own rehabilitation process. In practice, this would require juveniles to think what they want and need in order to stay away from criminal behavior. Also, the need of increasing awareness regarding After Care program and its possibilities was evident.

Staff in Lipjan Center has the responsibility to guarantee that juveniles have all the relevant information and also the role of activating juveniles falls into the job of a case worker.

We recommend that the staff is trained in juveniles’ physical development, behavioral challenges, substance abuse rehabilitation, learning disabilities, and legitimate use of power.

In the project, early identification and response system was developed in a series of workshops with representatives from Kosovo’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and Social Services, Ministry of Health, the Kosovo Police and Probation Services.  Also the Centres of Social Welfare were active in the process. An inter-sectorial working protocol was developed to ensure also the child’s right to be heard in assessing the risk situation and planning further steps to avoid coming in contact with the law. The system is included in the new Child Protection Law of Kosovo.

Both Kosovar and THL experts valued the cooperation and sharing information as a mutual learning experience.

”We are very grateful for all the support by the project for the juveniles at risk and for the support for further development of the Lipljan Detention Centre for juveniles. However, there is still lot to be done this field in Kosovo and maybe there will be a new project in the future which will specifically focus on juveniles at risk,” said Mr. Haki Lakna from the Kosovo Probation Service (KPS) at the final conference.

Background

THL was partner in the EU Twinning Project Further Strengthening the Correctional and Probation Services in Kosovo with the Criminal Sanctions Agency of Finland (RISE) during 2017–2020. Twinning is a European Union instrument for institutional cooperation between Public Administrations of EU Member States and of beneficiary or partner countries.

International Affairs and Research Support Office at THL is active in international development projects all over the world offering opportunities for cooperation to THL and other experts.

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