For the first time in Egypt, a Justice for Children Roundtable was organised in Cairo on 10th and 11th April 2012 by Terre des hommes and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Assembling nearly 100 people in the Hall of the Ministry of Justice, the opening ceremony was presided over by the Minister himself and the Vice-Minister and regional representatives of Tdh and UNODC.
This platform, placing side by side the Egyptian Government, an agency of the United Nations and an international non-governmental organisation, is the result of good coordination between all three parties in the past four months, and shows the importance given to this delicate subject – Justice for Children. The composition of this platform is all the more remarkable as it is positioned in the present hostile attitude towards international NGOs.
According to Juergen Wellner, Tdh’s regional advisor for juvenile justice, “In the past few months, the situation of international non-governmental organisations in Egypt has attracted the attention of the whole world, following the arrests of foreign humanitarian workers. At a time when the work of these organisations is particularly difficult in this country, and when some influential political voices demand a ban on the work of internationally financed NGOs, it is especially remarkable that a Swiss organisation like Tdh can manage to be a co-organiser of a conference held by the Ministry of Justice, presided over by the Minister and uniting high-ranking officials working in the system for juvenile justice.”
The targets of this Round Table were to get all the governmental actors together (Ministries of Justice, of the Interior and of Social Affairs) with non-governmental parties involved in Justice for Children in Egypt in order to initiate enhanced coordination and to understand the opportunities and challenges better, so as to agree on which areas have priority of intervention.
The technical workshops on the second day were the highlight of this Round Table. Five groups, each composed of all kinds of actors (judge, public prosecutor, lawyer, police officer, social worker, member of civil society, etc.) worked on the following themes, resuming the stages of the system of justice for minors:
1. Treatment of children upon arrest and during pre-trial phase;
2. Adjudicatory process and sentencing / alternatives to deprivation of liberty;
3. Institutional treatment;
4. Prevention / After-care and reintegration;
5. Children victims and witnesses of crimes.
At the end of these two days, there was greater willingness by the Ministry of Justice to support intra-governmental coordination. The two organisers, Tdh and UNODC, will continue with the coordination of civil society and governmental parties, by running workshops resuming separately each of the five themes dealt with at the Round Table. “Everyone showed their willingness to work together for better treatment of minors in conflict with the law. This engagement demonstrates that the reality in Egypt is more complex than it seems at first sight, and that efforts to build up partnerships with the Egyptian authorities can still be successful”, concludes Juergen Wellner.
You can find further information about this event by consulting the official website including all the relative documents (in Arabic and partly in English)