The Director of UNICRI, Mr. Sandro Calvani, has recently conducted a mission in Angola where the Institute has been running a programme in the field of juvenile justice since 2001.
During the war in Angola, the juvenile justice system ceased to function, and children were not guaranteed adequate protection. Minors in conflict with the law were tried by ordinary courts and kept in adult detention facilities.
The project launched by UNICRI recuperated the country's judicial system and traditions based on reconciliation, while also strengthening the institutional and administrative framework of juvenile justice and making the juvenile court operational. At the social level, activities were developed in cooperation with two NGOs: VIS and CIES aimed at reintegrating children into the social system.
To date, the programme has successfully assisted the Angolan Government in setting-up the Juvenile Court, the pre-trial Observation Centre as well as four pilot social prevention/rehabilitation centres in Luanda to serve as referral centres for the Juvenile Court. The programme envisaged training courses, as well as provision of office furnishings, equipment and supplies.
So far the Juvenile Justice Court established by the programme has dealt with more than 3000 minors in need of special protection.
Mr. Calvani's mission to Angola made a significant difference within the juvenile justice programme, by stimulating an innovative approach towards the future activities aimed at strengthening the Angolan institutions.
The Director carried out field visits: he met with the main beneficiaries of the programme, as well as children and youths in conflict with the law and in need of special protection. In the Sambizanga Mota municipality which is one of the poorest suburbs of Luanda, he visited a professional training Centre in which youngsters referred by the Juvenile Justice Court Judge were undergoing training. The UNICRI Director emphasised the importance of the programme and gave encouragement to the minors.
Mr. Calvani also visited the Juvenile Justice Court established by UNICRI in cooperation with the Angolan Ministry of Justice. Important meetings were held with the Ministry of Justice and key partners.
The programme was praised several times by all partners, especially by the Deputy-Minister for Justice, who expressed his appreciation for UNICRI's contribution towards the establishment of the Juvenile Justice Court and its social services. The Deputy Minister stressed that the same positive opinion was held by the Angolan President during an international forum on Juvenile Justice: The President, Mr. José Eduardo dos Santos mentioned UNICRI as one of the best UN agencies in the country for making a difference in each Angolan child by establishing such an innovative programme.
According to Mr. Calvani "This project has been designed to have a concrete impact on the lives of thousands of children. The future of Angola lies with the youth, and depends on the assistance of minors, the majority of the Country's population, in the long process of achieving their rights. UNICRI is fully committed to assisting the Government in achieving this goal."
Mr. Calvani's visit was highly appreciated by the Government and associated partners and was an excellent contribution to future steps of the programme.