Turin, 19 June 2009. The Angolan vice-Minister of Justice, his Excellency Mr. João Monteiro was today in Turin (Italy) for an official visit to UNICRI.
The objective of the visit was to discuss the experience of the eight-year Programme on strengthening the rights of children and youth in Angola, and to examine the expansion of the successful efforts in Luanda to other provinces of Angola.
The programme has been implemented by UNICRI in cooperation with the Angolan Government and with the support of the Italian Department of Justice.
The Italian Development Cooperation – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has supported the programme.
The main outcomes of this ongoing joint project have been the creation of the first Angolan Juvenile Justice Court in the capital Luanda, the establishment of the Juvenile Justice Department within the Ministry of Justice, and of a network of prevention/rehabilitation centres that will become referral centres for the Court, and the creation of youngsters’ personal data documentation centre.
With regard to the latter, one of the main challenges facing the programme in its early phases, was the lack of registration of children at birth. Almost a third of the country’s total population have been displaced from their area of origin during the 27 years civil war. In Luanda, thousands of children did not have an official recognized identity. For this reason, a specific training was provided, and a “children registration campaign” was implemented.
In Angola the juvenile justice system had ceased to function as a consequence of the war and children were not guaranteed adequate legal, social and psychological protection. Minors in conflict with the law were tried by ordinary courts and kept in adult detention facilities.
At the social level, the project introduced pilot activities aimed at reintegrating children in the social system and a series of training courses were carried out for judges, prosecutors, police forces and psychologists.
Various awareness-raising campaigns and activities have been conducted to inform the general public of the existence and role of the various institutions composing Luanda’s Juvenile Justice System and the relevant national and international legislations.
In light of these positive results, the future plan of the Angolan Government envisages new infrastructures, which need to be created in rural areas of nine Angolan provinces (Benguela, Bengo, Bié, Cabinda, Kwanza-Sul, Huambo, Huila, Malange and Zaire), where there is still an urgent need to intervene on illegal detentions, delays in passing sentences and other serious irregular practices concerning minors.