On October 7th, 2014, the National Network for Children, together with the Institute for Social Activities and Practices (SAPI), organised a final round table on the “Alternatives to Custody for Young Offenders – Developing Intensive and Remand Fostering Programmes” project of the Daphne III programme. The project started in January 2013 and is being carried out by the British Association for Adoption and Foster Care (BAAF) in partnership with seven organisations from Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, the UK, and the International Juvenile Justice Observatory as well as the European Network for Children – Eurochild.
The roundtable was devoted to issues related to the system of juvenile justice in the country and the development of foster care as an alternative means of detention of child offenders. Emphasised was the need to respect the fundamental principle in juvenile justice, namely that imprisonment should be a last resort and make up for the lack of alternatives to detention. Meanwhile, article 40 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child cites foster care as one of the alternatives to institutional custody, something that has a demonstrably negative effect on children.
In the framework of the programme were the partners of the BAAF, in the forms of Jeffrey Coleman, director, and John Page, director of family services. The UK introduced European quality standards for foster care for children in conflict with the law and for guidance in planning and delivering services. Associate Nelly Petrova-Dimitrova, Chairman of the board for the Institute for Social Activities and Practices presented the findings from the framework of the project studying the question of juvenile justice and foster care in Bulgaria, while Judge Ivan Georgiev from the Sofia Regional Court raised questions about the role of the Bulgarian judge in the system of juvenile justice in Bulgaria with regard to the necessary direction of change. Finally, Nadia Stoykova, executive director of the SAPI summarised a set of recommendations for the development of national policies in the field of juvenile justice.
During the roundtable serious interest was aroused over a model for providing foster care for children in conflict with the law in France, which was presented by Marion Preo, director of services for young people in the system of legal protection and justice.
The participants discussed the need for changes in the legal framework in line with the principles of European and international instruments. There is a need for the introduction of: clear definitions in the system of juvenile justice; alternative measures that may be imposed by the prosecution and the court, including the settlement of mediation as a special measure in the conflict between the minor and the offender. Emphasised was the need for full alignment of the system for juvenile justice with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments.
The National Network for Children would like to thank all the participants for their interest and active participation. We will continue to work actively for alternatives to detention of young offenders and for specialised foster care for children in Bulgaria, as well as comprehensive reforms in the area of juvenile justice.
Presentations given during the forum:
Alternatives to detention. Quality standards for foster care for children in conflict with the law. (In English) Presentation by Jeffrey Coleman, (PPT, 341 Kb)
Implementation of the measure placing children in conflict with the law in foster care: The example of France. (In Bulgarian) Presentation by Marion Preo, intern-director of specialised services by the system of legal protection of youth, (PPT, 248 KB)
Alternatives to custody for Young Offenders – Developing Intensive and Remand Fostering Programmes. Guidelines for policy changes. (In Bulgarian) Presentation by Nadia Stoykova, CEO SAPI, (PPT, 217 KB)
Alternatives to custody for Young Offenders – Developing Intensive and Remand Fostering Programmes. SAPI Survey Results. (In Bulgarian) Presentation by Nelly Petrova, Chairman of SAPI, (PPT, 1,1 MB)
The Juvenile Justice System in Bulgaria (the Role of the Judge). (In English and Bulgarian) Presentation by Ivan Georgiev, judge at the Sofia District Court, (PPT, 352 KB)
Trasnlator: Morgan James, volunteer