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Strengthening Juvenile Justice in Mozambique: Consolidation Phase

Building on the successes of the implemented UNICRI programme “Strengthening Juvenile Justice in Mozambique”, (2006-2009), the Consolidation Phase (2010-2013), completed systematizing efforts on both institutional and societal levels, to promote the rights of juveniles at risk/in conflict with the law and reintegrating them into the labor market and society. The activities of this phase of the project were designed with the purpose of strengthening the programme as well as ensuring its sustainability.

The legal framework on juvenile justice in Mozambique is represented by the law 08/08, Organização Tutelar de Menores, which is part of a legislative package that entered into force in July 2008 and foresees criminal prevention measures for juveniles less than 16 years old who: a.) have serious difficulties in adapting to a regular social life, b.) are at serious risk of committing an offence, or c.) are in conflict with the law. Under the regulatory point of view the topic of establishing the minor age is not always clear. Indeed, in Mozambique the criminal legal age is set at 16 years, while the civil legal age, fixed at 21 years by the Civil Code of Portuguese origins. Moreover, the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, (which Mozambique has signed in 1990 and ratified in 1994), makes it impossible to hold minors of 18 years of age criminally responsible, while the Criminal Code sets a special reduced regime for youths between 16 and 21 years old.

The beneficiaries of the project were those considered ‘minors’ by the legal framework (up to 16 years of age). The project also supported the country to finalize the institutionalization of a juvenile justice system acting in compliance with relevant international conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Like the initial phase of the Programme, the Consolidation Phase focused on the Province of Maputo and was in line with the Mozambican Integrated Strategic Plan for the Justice Sector 2009-2012. Its beneficiaries were juveniles at risk/in conflict with the law, and their families. Officials of the judiciary, law enforcement personnel, social workers, teachers and civil society at large also benefited from the project.

During the Consolidation phase, UNICRI continued to support relevant governmental institutions, NGOs, and civil society at large in reforming the juvenile justice sector. Efforts tailored specifically for the education of juveniles and creation of employment opportunities (vocational training, internships, job placements, and scholarships) were also reinforced. The Consolidation Phase included extensive training activities for various stakeholders and trainers through the “training of trainers”. Training was offered in particular to those who have already been trained within the framework of the initial programme. UNICRI, together with the Ministry of Justice (the main local partner of the project), implemented the programme activities along with the Steering Committee and the Programme Management Unit (PMU), which included representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs, the Tribunal for Minors and the General Attorney for minors.

Regarding the institutional part of the project, UNICRI, in close collaboration with the PMU, organized in April 2012 a retreat with the purpose of elaborating a draft of the Regulation of the Observation and Rehabilitation Center of Chiango for Juveniles in conflict with the law, the first pre and post-trial Centre for juveniles in the whole country. The participants were representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Tribunal for Minors, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Women and Social Affairs and General Attorney’s Office. After the retreat, UNICRI, in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, supported the drafting of a Manual of Procedure and a Code of Conduct to serve as guidelines for the Regulation of the Centre of Chiango. These standardized regulations were then submitted to the Minister of Justice for entry into force. They will be used by government staff of Rehabilitation and Observation centres for minors in Mozambique. UNICRI also conducted field research for the selection of two non-governmental institutions to host minors in conflict with the law. The findings resulted in the “Report of the selection of two non-governmental institutions to host minors in conflict with the law.” These NGOs will temporarily accommodate minors, serving as reception centres for the Juvenile Court, Prosecutor's Office for Minors and the Social Services of Ministry of Women and Social Affairs until the opening of the Centre of Chiango.

In addition, UNICRI worked together with the Ministry of Interior to set up ad hoc facilities in compliance with the international standards for the correct treatment of juveniles in conflict with the law. In particular, four transitional rooms for minors in conflict with the law in two selected police stations of Maputo City were renovated. Subsequently, the two police stations fully complied with police internal guidelines on juvenile offenders’ treatment, which foresee the existence of an ad hoc location to keep minors in custody totally separated from adults. This intervention gave way to the facilities in which minors are received while waiting to be brought to the Tribunal of Minors, within 24 hours.

Finally, UNICRI launched a database containing information related to the juvenile justice system in Mozambique in line with requirements of governmental institutions (Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Women and Social Affairs, General Prosecutor’s Office, Tribunal for Minors) dealing with juveniles at risk or in conflict with the law. UNICRI provided the necessary equipment, training and guidance for successful implementation of the database project. The Ministry of Justice is in charge of managing the database and coordinating all governmental institutions for sustainable maintenance and regular updates. The database is now installed and fully functioning. All the institutional personnel have been properly trained for database usage and the IT Company who designed the software will provide technical support for the next full year.

The social component of the programme was implemented with the support of the local NGO, Cooperativa Social Tsembeka (CST) with the aim of enhancing country capacity building and the sustainability of the programme. UNICRI worked with the neighborhoods (bairros) of Maputo most affected by cases of juveniles in conflict with the law. In these bairros, (Hulene B, Mafalala and Maxaquene C), UNICRI opened Information Points where families and juveniles received support from psychologists, sociologists as well as legal advice. In addition, UNICRI has set up a juvenile justice network where Community Courts, local authorities, personnel from Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Women and Social Affairs, and Ministry of Education are involved in community justice for the effective reintegration of juveniles within their communities. Several schools were also involved in the juvenile justice network and specific trainings on minors at risk or in conflict with the law were carried out with Cooperativa Social Tsembeka for community leaders and school personnel. Juveniles start their rehabilitation process in the Information Points where their needs are assessed through educational activities by psychologists and tutors who evaluate the particular background and necessities of each individual.

During the period from July 2011 to December 2012 a total of 398 minors at risk or in conflict with the law were received in the Information Points of the three selected bairros of Maputo City, (see attachment for expanded data). For these juveniles, UNICRI with CST provided rehabilitation and educational activities as well as scholarships, internships and employment (for juveniles between 15 and 16 years old). A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Instituto National de Emprego e Formação Profissional INEFP in order to provide orientation and vocational training, (electrical, mechanical, computer skills, hairdressing and cooking) for eighty selected juveniles. Later, through Memorandums of Understanding with private and public entities, UNICRI provided internships and tools for self-employment.

Finally UNICRI produced nine documentaries on minors at risk or in conflict with the law in collaboration with the Television of Mozambique. The TV programs were broadcasted weekly on the national TV program Justiça e Ordem. The programs targeted the young population and civil society at large, raising awareness regarding the difficulties of minors in conflict with the law, and supporting the diffusion of a juvenile justice culture. In addition, four articles on the same topic have been published by the national newspaper, Domingo – Noticias.