Belarus Project report

Click HERE for the Project's successful "close out" letter from HM Ambassador to Belarus.

The programme of seminars and a written publication in juvenile justice involved numerous solicitors, academics and judges. Including London child law solicitors Robert Hush of London South Bank University and Susan Fitzgerald. Youth justice academics from Nottingham Trent University Dr Vicky Palmer, Mark Bowers and David Ellicott. SIHRG solicitors Lionel Blackman and Ros Olleson. Video interviews with Russian sub-titles from Lord Justice Treacy Chair of the Sentencing Council, Deputy Chief District Judge Tan Ikram, Police Constable Baughan of Surrey Police youth diversion section. Youth justice workers Deirdre Leask of Southwark and Benjamin Blackman from Surrey County. A huge thanks to them all and many others involved in the programme as interpreters and translators and organisers. SIHRG has helped put juvenile justice reform on the map in Belarus and UNICEF are now spearheading institutional and legal reforms. We are also indebted to our friends and legal colleagues at the Institute for the Advanced Training of Judges in Sovyetskaya Street, Minsk.

Project Title

 

Advancing Best Practice in Juvenile Justice in Belarus .

Countries/regions covered

 

Belarus

Name of Implementer (including name/s of the partner organisation)

 

Solicitors International Human Rights Group

Address: 7 Waterloo Road, Epsom, Surrey KT19 8AY UK

Strategic focus/ impact the project will contribute to

Improving effectiveness, transparency and accountability of government and security sectors

Key project contact

 

Lionel Blackman

Planned start Date

29/06/2017

Actual start date

29/06/2017

Planned end Date

15/03/18

Actual end date

26/03/2018

Please explain any variance in planned start and end dates

A final collaborative seminar with UNICEF, World Without Borders and Baranovichi City Administration could be convened only on 22nd March 2018.

Following the delivery of two seminars in the first quarter ending 30th September 2018 we delivered four seminars in the second quarter ending 31st December. Due to on going savings made against the budget, especially in connection with hotel and airfares, we were able to extend the programme of seminars and undertook a further five seminars in this final quarter. A total of eleven seminars delivered during the Project compared with the planned eight seminars. In this final quarter we completed the content of the the written Guide on Juvenile Justice for Belarus. 500 Russian language copies will be delivered for immediate distribution to Belarus judges, 250 for future distribution and 50 English language copies will be available. The Guide includes a healthy critique of the areas in which the juvenile justice law of Belarus is at variance with international standards.

A further 172 judges, lawyers, relevant State employees (e.g., city administrators, teachers etc) and civil society members participated in five seminars on juveniles in the criminal justice system and juveniles in the civil justice system during this third and final quarter. A total of at least 338 persons participated during the course of the whole Project. The seminars increased understanding of international principles concerning child rights and presented aspects of best practice in the rehabilitation of youth offenders in UK practice. The first in Belarus written guide to juvenile justice in Belarus and international law was completed. The book will be a lasting contribution to the improvement and implementation of international standards relating to juvenile justice in Belarus.

Following savings made in Quarters One and Two the Project delivered two additional seminars for judges, the second seminar planned for defence lawyers was substituted with a seminar for prosecutors, and a final exceptional seminar was staged for a large cross-section of interested participants in the city of Baranovichi, a city cooperating with UNICEF and Belarus NGO World Without Borders in the practical development of reform in juvenile justice.

The written Guide to juvenile justice in Belarus and international law was completed.

The Project has assisted to create a receptive climate across relevant strata of Belarus society to the development of dedicated youth justice services necessary to deliver a reformed approach based on rehabilitation and restorative justice.

The Supreme Court has indicated its approval of the crime judges seminar content and format. The written Guide has been approved by Council of the Belarusian State University Institute for retraining and improving qualification of judges, prosecutors, courts and institutions of justice. A significant high level conference was held under UNICEF auspices in Minsk on 20th March 2018. The city administration of Baranovichi has demonstrated its willingness to collaborate with UNICEF and Belarus NGO World Without Borders in developing rehabilitation and restorative justice measures for children in conflict with the law. The extent to which this Project’s delivery of 11 seminars across various and relevant strata of Belarus society within the time frame of 7 months has contributed to the present favourable climate to juvenile justice reform is of course difficult to measure. However, there is a likelihood that the impact of the series of seminars is felt not only by the participants. There is likely to be an indirect multiplying impact on others. Seminar participants will believe that juvenile justice reform is “on the agenda” within Belarus and this will encourage others who may have influence to be receptive to change.

 

Signature

  Lionel Blackman

Name

Lionel Blackman

Position

Project Director

Date

 27th March 2018

 





Solicitors Susan Fitzgerald and Robert Hush in Minsk

Nottingham Trent University academics Mark Bower and
Dr Vicky Palmer at the Judicial Institute Minsk.

SIHRG solicitor Ros Olleson and an audience of Belarus
defence lawyers.