ENOC 16th Annual Conference “Juvenile Delinquency – Child Friendly Justice, Structures and Processes for Prevention and Intervention”
Opening Ceremony: - Welcoming Address by the Commissioner for Children’s Rights
Ms Leda Koursoumba
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
It is a great honour and indeed a pleasure for me to welcome you all, in my capacity as the host Commissioner for Children’s Rights and the Chair-elect of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) to the ENOC 16th Annual Conference, taking place today and tomorrow.
Our Conference, under the title “Juvenile Delinquency – Child Friendly Justice, Structures and Processes for Prevention and Intervention”, will examine issues which we, 42 European independent children’s rights institutions, have very high on our respective national agendas, in the framework of the increasing number of international and regional human rights instruments promoting a child-friendly justice system.
I am more than delighted to note that, the ENOC 16th Annual Conference has been accredited as an event under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union, as its theme falls within the framework of the European Union Strategy for Children, as well within the current EU Presidency priorities.
Ladies and Gentlemen
While the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, provides the general legal framework for the development of a child-centered course of action in all matters affecting children, in the last decades a number of more specific and detailed Standards and Guidelines has been adopted within the UN legal order as well as that of the Council of Europe, reflecting the current international trend on human rights concerning children in conflict with the law and setting the minimum standards for youth justice issues. These include, General Comment No. 10 of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Guidelines on child-friendly justice, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 17 November 2010, to name but a few.
All these international instruments are underpinned by a substantial body of evidence which establishes that, young offenders are more likely to be under-socialised individuals-still children with rights, requiring help and guidance. We know today– more than ever before – that a number of factors, such as, poor parenting, neglect, deprivation, abuse, misfortune, and social exclusion make it more likely that a child will first engage in anti-social behaviour and, in the absence of prompt and effective intervention measures, will end up in delinquent behaviour.
On the basis of the above, it is not difficult to support that, the point of departure for any child-centered plan of action to tackle effectively juvenile delinquency, should be the reduction of the societal conditions which lead to this problem.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Today and tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to discuss, further, how the development of policies and programmes which promote children’s rights in general and children’s welfare in particular, can contribute to the reduction of the number of children who will find themselves in conflict with the law. Furthermore, moving beyond prevention at a structural level, we will be discussing issues on special prevention and intervention programmes for children falling into the high risk categories, as well as, how a child-friendly justice system can better serve the best interest of the child.
For that, we are privileged to have with us representatives of International Organizations and NGOs, namely, DG Justice of the European Commission, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the Council of Europe and the International Juvenile Justice Observatory.
Furthermore, we will consider and discuss the “ENOC Study report on National Human Rights Institutions and Child/Juvenile Delinquency”, prepared by an independent expert, which is based on a survey carried out in 2012 among the ENOC member States.
All these will result in the discussion of a Statement to be submitted for adoption to the ENOC General Assembly taking place after the Conference, on Friday.
It was my personal proposal, kindly adopted by my colleagues at the Bureau, that our two most distinguished key-note speakers make their presentation at the Opening Ceremony, so that our Cypriots guests, high-level state officials having competence for taking policy decisions on the matter, will also benefit.
Therefore, Mrs Justice Renate Winter, Former Chair of the International Association of Youth and Family Courts Judges and Magistrates, an expert on juvenile justice, including the drafting of relevant legislation, will elaborate on “Child-Friendly Justice” as a promise and a challenge. Next, Mrs Kirsten Sandberg, Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, an expert on children’s rights, will talk on “Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights”.
To all our speakers, I extend our grateful thanks; I also thank our Cypriot guests for being with us today; and I wish all participants a fruitful and productive Conference.
Hilton Cyprus – Nicosia
Speech at the Openning Ceremony.docx
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