Up to 5600 children and young people aged 14-21 have been diverted from criminal proceedings over the decade. UNICEF and the European Union have been supporting the Diversion and Mediation Programme since its beginning. A conference summarizing the eleven-year results of the Diversion and Mediation Programme was organized by the Ministry of Justice and UNICEF with the support from the European Union within the framework of the project – “Strengthening Systems and Services for Child Protection in Georgia”.
Major achievements, challenges and future vision of the Diversion and Mediation Programme were discussed at the conference among key stakeholders. Opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Rati Bregadze, Minister of Justice of Georgia, Mr. Irakli Shotadze, Prosecutor General of Georgia, Ms. Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Georgia and Dr. Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. Practitioners involved in the implementation of restorative justice programmes and representatives of civil society and international organizations attended the conference.
Diversion is an alternative mechanism to criminal proceedings and a major cornerstone of the juvenile justice system. According to the Juvenile Justice Code, diversion is the priority measure, which means that, if a juvenile commits an offense, the use of diversion should be considered as a first priority.
The Diversion and Mediation Programme was introduced in 2010 and was a major shift from the Zero Tolerance Policy towards restorative justice and rehabilitation. Another big achievement of the Programme was the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Code (2015) which extended diversion to a court level and introduced the opportunity to apply it in case of young adults (18-21). From 2014 the Diversion Programme also involved those juveniles who committed not only minor offences but also serious crimes. 2021 showed the highest annual rate of 65 per cent of successful mediation in the Diversion Programme.
The Diversion and Mediation Programme is managed by the National Agency for Crime Prevention Execution of Non-Custodial Sentences and Probation in partnership with the Prosecution Service of Georgia.
During the conference, the efficiency of the Diversion and Mediation mechanism, the ability of the program to adjust to the emergency situations, such as COVID-19 pandemic, and specificities of working in a remote modality were assessed. The satisfaction survey of the participants of the programme and resocialization and rehabilitation efforts were also presented.
As a recognition of appreciation and gratitude, outstanding professionals of their respective fields: prosecutors, mediators and social workers involved in the programme were awarded during the conference.
UNICEF, with the support of the European Union, continues promoting effective support and protection of children by enhanced child protection and justice systems. The three-year programme ‘Strengthening Systems and Services for Child Protection in Georgia’ supported by the European Union aims to strengthen legislation, policies and guidelines that support the de-institutionalization process and to enhance the capacity of the professional workforce at central and municipal levels to support and protect children and families in Georgia.
For further information, please contact:
Sopo Chumburidze, National Agency for Crime Prevention Execution of Non-Custodial Sentences and Probation, 599120009, SChumburidze@prevention.gov.ge
Maya Kurtsikidze, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Georgia; Tel: 599 53 30 71 E-mail: email@example.com www.unicef.org/georgia