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UNICEF and the State Attorney’s Office cooperate to train judicial officials and employees

State Attorney General Dražen Jelenić and Head of UNICEF Office for Croatia Valentina Otmačić Foto: MKneževićBarišić/UNICEFState Attorney General Dražen Jelenić and Head of UNICEF Office for Croatia Valentina Otmačić

A multi-year training programme for legal experts working with juveniles in conflict with the law is being established to advance the treatment of juvenile offenders. There were 1,883 juvenile offenders in Croatia in 2017. The State Attorney’s Office rendered decisions on 1,934 minors, and in the case of 1,291 of them, criminal charges were dismissed. Aiming to advance the treatment of juvenile offenders, Dražen Jelenić, State Attorney General, and Valentina Otmačić, Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, signed today the Agreement on Cooperation in strengthening the capacity of state attorneys for youth and of non-legal professionals in state attorney offices in the period from 2018 to 2020.

Juveniles make up five per cent of the total number of all reported perpetrators of criminal offences. These cases are handled by state attorneys for young people who, in accordance with the provisions of the Juvenile Courts Act, must possess fundamental knowledge in the fields of criminology, social pedagogy, youth psychology, and youth social work. This knowledge represents criteria that the State Attorney General must take into account when giving state attorneys for young people their position. Non-legal professionals who work in state attorney offices also work on these cases and their scope of work is prescribed by the Ordinance on non-legal professionals working on cases in relation to juvenile delinquency and the criminal justice system for juveniles in state attorney offices and courts. The State Attorney Office of the Republic of Croatia believes that this Agreement will further improve the results of state attorneys for young people and non-legal professionals working on cases of juvenile offenders”, emphasised the State Attorney General, Dražen Jelenić.

Thanks to the newly initiated cooperation, 98 state attorneys for young people and twenty non-legal professionals working in state attorney offices will have the opportunity to attend a training programme to advance their skills in working with juvenile criminal offenders. The specialised training programme implemented in partnership with the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences of the University of Zagreb and the Judicial Academy will improve the communication skills of judicial experts and deepen their understanding of the rights and needs of young people in conflict with the law.

Just like adults, juveniles also make mistakes, but these mistakes are learning opportunities, provided we give these young people a second chance and appropriate assistance. Working with juveniles requires certain knowledge and skills from state attorneys and non-legal professionals. Thus, the long-term goal of the cooperation agreement between the State Attorney Office and UNICEF is to establish a lifelong professional development programme for judicial officials and employees working with young people. Through training sponsored by UNICEF, they will learn the specifics of behavioural disorders in children and young people and their needs. The training modules aim to enhance the skills required to work with young people, as well as the skills necessary to assess juvenile criminal offenders.

On the occasion of signing the Agreement, Valentina Otmačić, Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, said: “Children and young people in conflict with the law need our attention and care at all levels. Before they become adults, with the help of experts from the judicial system, society has the last chance to support them in taking responsibility for their own actions and lives. Therefore, it is extremely important for experts to know how to encourage positive change in the behaviour and lives of young people in conflict with the law”.

UNICEF, the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia, the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences of the University of Zagreb, and the Judicial Academy will support sustainable training by including it in the yearly work plans of the competent institutions and into the programme of lifelong professional development for judicial officials and employees. In this way, UNICEF and its partners will take a systematic approach to advancing the quality of work and the treatment of young people in conflict with the law.

Updated: 26 October 2018
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