Programme on Strengthening the Rights of Children and Youth in Angola
Phase 1 (January 2002 - June 2005)
The project launched in 2001 by UNICRI and funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintained the country’s judicial traditions and pre-existing system based on reconciliation, while at the same time strengthening the institutional and administrative framework of the Angolan Juvenile Justice System. The programme aimed to reinforce the Angolan institutions in their effort to set up and manage an effective Juvenile Justice System comprising of efficient juvenile courts and related social services. The strategy of the programme was to assist the Angolan Government in setting-up the Juvenile Court, the Juvenile Justice Department within the Ministry of Justice, in establishing a network of prevention/rehabilitation centres to become referral centres for the court, and in reinforcing the documentation centre and data base of the Angolan National Institute for Children’s Support on the situation of children in Angola. At the social level, the project introduced pilot activities aimed to reintegrate children into the social system by collaborating with other UN entities, local institutions and NGOs. These organizations include UNICEF, UNDP and IOM, which are working in the field of minors.
The main objective was to ensure that the Juvenile Justice System was administered in the best interest of the minor, to provide adequate training to the administrators of the Juvenile Justice System (judges, prosecutors, social workers, police officers), the organization of an effective and efficient justice and social system and the development of training material for the protection of minors and the prevention of delinquency. The programme developed a child-oriented and juvenile delinquency prevention system by promoting a complete approach, relying on a network of community-based social services by targeting youth, children, families and communities.
The social activities included the opening of, and support to, the operation of a National Observatory on the Conditions of Minors and four pilot social centres in different municipalities of Luanda to assist children at risk and in conflict with the law. Support included refurbishment of premises, provision of equipment and training of personnel.
The programme has strived to ensure equal services for both genders. The main activities had a particular attention to the specific needs of girls, dedicating a section for them in the Observation Centre as well as promoting gender-related training for the Juvenile Court, Observation Centre and Social Centre personnel. The programme also supported the Angolan Ministry of Justice in the elaboration of criteria for the accreditation, registration and monitoring of foster families and private / NGO institutions where sentenced minors may serve alternative measures decided by the Court. Yet another indispensable component of the programme included information and awareness campaigns, both in Angola and abroad, on the difficulty that Angolan minors encounter and the efforts taken to guarantee the children's rights.
- The Luanda Juvenile Court was inaugurated in June 2003. During its first year of activity, the Juvenile Court processed 656 cases.
- In October 2004, UNICRI/Luanda published a monograph on the Angolan 1996 Juvenile Law, which includes suggestions for its revision in line with the provisions of relevant international instruments.
Phase 2 ( July 2005 - June 2011)
The aim in the second phase of the program was the consolidation of the Juvenile Justice System in Luanda, building on the judicial and social structures set in place in phase 1. The second phase of the program based its strategy on the close collaboration established between Angolan institutions, particularly the Angolan Ministry of Justice (MINJUS), the Angolan Ministry of Social Affairs (MINARS), as well as international organizations, UN Agencies and NGOs.
The main component of the consolidation process consisted of organizing upgraded courses for the operators of the Juvenile Justice Court, the Observation Centre, the Social Centres and the Municipal Administrations.
Skills trainings were carried out to enhance knowledge on the applicability of the law 9/96, the regulations of the Tutelary Commission of Minors, the measure of the assisted freedom and the measure of delivery of services to the community. Beneficiaries of the training were magistrates, police, prosecutors, social centre educators, members of the tutelary commission and representatives of the Municipal Administrations. The training activities were conducted in the Angolan National Institute for Judicial Studies (INEJ), the Minors Court and Angolan National Institute for Children's Support (INAC) by local consultants with high level experience and experts in legal /social training. Some of these experts had benefited from the training courses carried out during the first phase of the program.
In cooperation with the Italian Juvenile Justice Department of the Ministry of Justice, three study visits to Italy were carried out in order to familiarise participants with Italian legislation, institutions and practices in the administration of juvenile justice. The outcome of the training tours resulted in a great opportunity to establish a dialogue and a professional network between the two countries.
The Observation Center for Girls was furnished with various equipment and materials to carry out educational activities and vocational training. The program also provided the Tutelary Commission of Minors with some equipment and materials.
The social component of the training consisted of providing courses addressed to the staff of the Observation Centre and to minors, and dealt with issues such as literacy, scholastic "catch up" classes, organization of sports activities, relationships with families and had the aim to identify the role and aspirations of the child. Moreover, a new form of training model on Community and Freedom-Assisted Provision Services, group dynamics and family mediation targeted towards police officers and social centres was developed for the Juvenile Justice System.
Yet another component of the activities included public awareness campaigns on children's rights that were initiated by UNICRI and carried out with the support of municipal administrations, markets, schools, health centres and churches. For example, workshops on child victimization were conducted in schools in order to sensitise teachers on these issues. Additionally, in collaboration with IOM (International Organization on Migration), workshops were conducted focusing on gender issues in order to promote equal services.
The interconnection of both components, social and institutional, ensures that the Juvenile Justice System is administered in the best interest of the child. This combination resulted in the development of appropriate training for administrators of the Juvenile Justice System (magistrates, social workers and police); in the organization of an effective and efficient social system; and in the development of training materials for the protection of minors and crime prevention.
The second edition of Ms. Maria do Carmo Medina's book, "Juvenile Court Act and the Juvenile Court Code of Procedure," was updated and contains the regulations on the Tutelary Commission and the Community Measures on Assisted-Freedom Provision Services, both published in the Republic Gazette. The textbook represented the basis of training activities and was disseminated during seminars and courses. Another publication included the Theoretical and Practical Manual for Social Operators in the Juvenile Court, which was printed in collaboration with the Italian NGO CIES, and distributed both in Angola and in Italy.
- All operators engaged within the Juvenile Court are trained and competent in their field of work;
- The Juvenile Justice Court, Observation Centre and four municipalities’ social centres are set up, operational, equipped, furnished and provided with working tools and running cost resources;
- The Observation Centre, Social Centres and the Juvenile Justice Court have been provided with a standardized data collection system;
- The INAC (Angolan National Institute for Children’s Support) database and documentation centre has been rendered operational;
- Exchange of information and best practices between the Angolan Juvenile Justice institutions and the Italian Juvenile Justice Department has been established;
- The collaboration between the civil society and local institutions as well as a dialogue with Italian and Angolan entities and organizations has been created.
- The Ministry of Justice has, based on the success achieved in Luanda, decided to extend the project to other nine provinces (Benguela, Bengo, Bié, Cabinda, Kwanza-Sul, Huambo, Huila, Malange and Zaire).
UNICRI’s programme is being carried out thanks to the support of:
Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and in collaboration with:
Angolan Ministry of Justice Republic of Angola
UNDP in Angola
Centro Informazione e Educazione allo Sviluppo (CIES)
Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo (VIS)
Department of Juvenile Justice, Italian Ministry of Justice
Photo credits: @UN Photo: Jean Pierre Laffont; @UN Photo Milton Grant