The ‘Alternative Ways to Address Youth (AWAY)’ project held its kickoff meeting on the 4th and 5th of April 2017 in Budapest. This project focuses on diversion measures for children in conflict with the law, and is coordinated by Terres des Hommes Hungary. The IJJO is a partner of the project.
‘AWAY’ was formed in response to the lack of diversion measures for youth in conflict with the law in former socialist countries of the central and eastern European region, which continue to rely on punishment rather than rehabilitation. While these countries have legal and structural restorative techniques within their governments, diversion, in particular, is mostly inaccessible for children from rural areas and the poorest backgrounds. In this regard, the project seeks to promote the use of diversion in order to have a child-friendly approach within the juvenile justice system.
The goals of the project are to build regional empirical evidence based on diversion in the juvenile justice system, while utilizing the research and recommendations generated by the trainings to develop child-friendly informational material for children and adults in the target countries. These tools will be used to inform both local and regionally related policies for plans of action.
The kick off meeting allowed the partners to meet for the first time, building a cohesive relationship amongst them. The IJJO was represented by Aurélie Edjidjimo, policy and project assistant. Together with DCI Belgium, Ms Edjidjimo defined the scope of the project and the concept of diversion, including how it relates to, and differentiates from, restorative justice.
Diversion tactics are used to keep minors out of the traditional court systems by providing them with productive alternatives that benefit themselves and society. Diversion is different from restorative justice, but as mentioned in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Manual for the Measurement of Juvenile Justice Indicators, “diversion may involve measures based on the principles of restorative justice.”
In addition to discussing the concept of diversion, the IJJO introduced the objectives and content of an online training course as part of the AWAY project. Based on the research made throughout the project, the course will provide people from all over the EU access to information on the use and the implementation of diversion with a specific focus of restorative justice as diversion programme.