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Closure of the Project on Improving the Conditions in Juvenile Prisons

31 May 2017

On May 8, 9 and 10, 2017 civil society organisations (CSO) from Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania which specialise in the monitoring of human rights and conditions in juvenile prisons convened to discuss their work and plans for future cooperation. This meeting took place in Skopje, Macedonia, and marked the official closure of the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC) project “Improvement of Prison Conditions for Reintegration of Juvenile Detainees in Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo”. The NHC is pleased to have received enthusiastic feedback from the targeted institutions in these countries. They expressed to have witnessed more positive behaviour exhibited by the juveniles thanks to the project.

Aims of the meeting

One of the aims of the meeting was to discuss the successes and challenges of the process of regularly monitoring the institutions for deprivation of liberty of juveniles. The participating organisations were the Macedonian Helsinki Committee (MHC), the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC), the Kosovo Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (KRCT), and the local Ombudsman offices. These organisations have ample experience in monitoring and advocating the protection of human rights in their countries. Furthermore, they play an important role in assessing the conditions in juridical institutions and the deprivation of liberty of juveniles. Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo are EU candidates. Therefore, they have to meet certain accession criteria, including the improvement of the respect for human rights.

Regional cooperation

During the meeting in Skopje, the CSOs discussed various operational challenges regarding the monitoring of deprivation of liberty of juveniles. These challenges include: the  interaction with public institutions, especially the Ministries of Justice, the methodology of writing reports, and the cooperation with important stakeholders within their countries and regionally. In addition, the organisations expressed their visions on the sustainability of the methods and results, and the continuation of effective cooperation. Moreover, they shared their findings from the monitoring visits that were carried out in their countries last April.

Mr. Leo Tigges, who performed an evaluation of the project in 2015, actively engaged in the meeting. In the last two years, he has witnessed the development of the organisations and provided meaningful feedback, encouraging them to cooperate in order to enlarge their networks. Thus, correctional institutions can be targeted on a more strategic level.

During a brainstorm exercise, valuable ideas were stipulated. The participants expressed the following: “More involvement of other CSOs in our work is the way forward.”

In addition, the Albanian version of the publication of ‘Practical Guide – Monitoring of places where children are deprived of Liberty’ was presented at the meeting. This guide has previously been used in a workshop and has proven to be a useful tool because of its systematic approach. With the funds from the project, this publication has been translated into the Albanian language.