UNODC supports judges and subject matter experts in Belarus to discuss juvenile justice and crime prevention

Minsk, Belarus, 10 January 2019 - An international conference 'Prevention of crimes, related to illegal drug and psychoactive substance trafficking committed by children, and improvement of national legislation' organised within the framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) took place on 14 December 2018 in Minsk, the Republic of Belarus.

Jointly organised by the Supreme Court  of the Republic of Belarus, the United Nations Children Fund   (UNICEF) and in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the event brought together some 70 participants, including judges, law enforcement professionals, representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health and international organisations. The event provided a platform to discuss current practices, trends and challenges in Belarus concerning drug-related crimes committed by children as well as to review and share best international standards and practices.  

The conference was opened by Ms Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, Regional programme coordinator, UNODC, who thanked Belarus for its cooperation and underlined the timeliness and critical importance of the topic in focus. Protecting the health of people and society from the dangerous effects of drugs is the main objective of the international drug control conventions. This was reaffirmed at the special United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) in 2016. While the conventions provide an excellent basis for the application of the principle of proportionality in drug related crimes, the international community has also developed standards, norms and expertise that provide additional guidance for governments on the use of measures alternative to incarceration and punishment.

The event benefited substantially from contributions by UNODC Justice Section.   In particular,  Ms Anna Giudice from the Global Programme on Violence against Children, outlined the obligations of States parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the UN drug control conventions as regards children's involvement in drugs: children's rights need to be respected and any criminal justice response should focus on alternatives to prosecution and imprisonment, reintegration and rehabilitation as well as prevention and treatment for children with drug use disorders. 

Meanwhile, Ms Anna Tsitsina, representing the UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, talked about trafficking in persons, including children, for forced criminality and its connection to drugs, presenting concrete examples of judicial cases concerning children involved in drug (marijuana) cultivation in the United Kingdom. Ms Tsitsina discussed the innovative approach taken by the courts in the United Kingdom in demonstrating that in those particular instances the drug-related crimes committed by children were a direct part of their human trafficking experience thus confirming that the children were victims of human trafficking. Ms Tsitsina further outlined relevant international standards on non-criminalisation of victims of human trafficking, including child specific standards, and made reference to the latest United Kingdom legislation, which provides a specific defence for children trafficked for forced criminality.

Lastly, Ms Elizabeth Mattfeld from UNODC Drug Prevention and Health Branch explained that children may be exposed to various risks, including to people who use drugs, may use drugs themselves and may have a drug use disorder. She noted that these children need skills and support to learn, grow and be healthy, and those with a drug use disorder require a health-based approach grounded in the latest research to address their physical and mental health challenges.  'The justice and health sectors need to work together to address the needs of these children at risk and create alternatives that support healthy participation in society', concluded Ms Mattfeld.

On the margins of the conference, GLO.ACT Belarus focal point had meetings with representatives of two partner-implementing agencies to learn about latest project achievements in the country and to discuss way ahead in delivering the GLO.ACT as 'one' that would allow to build on past achievements, avoid duplications and amplify the project impact.

A bilateral meeting was also held with the GLO.ACT focal point in the European Union delegation to Belarus who shared updates on capacity building initiatives run in 2017-2018 for representatives of the Ministry of Interior.  Following the recommendation of the European Union focal point, a steering group meeting between project partners is planned to take place in Minsk on 14-15 January 2019.

                                  

Starting early 2019, GLO.ACT will be ramping up its presence in Belarus with a series of advanced training workshops being scheduled with the Ministry of Interior. The aim is that these will cover issues related to identification and documenting cases of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, combatting child sexual exploitation and child pornography, and trafficking for labour exploitation.

Training workshops will be held at the International Training Centre on Migration and Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Belarus.

The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) is a four-year (2015-2019), €11 million joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). GLO.ACT aims to provide assistance to governmental authorities and civil society organizations across 13 strategically selected countries: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine. GLO.ACT works with the 13 countries to plan and implement strategic national counter-trafficking and counter smuggling efforts through a prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships approach. It supports the development of more effective responses to trafficking and smuggling, including providing assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and direct support mechanisms. In Belarus the Ministry of Interior  is the project's principal national counterpart.

Here you can find a web story in Russian by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus.

For more information, please contact:

Elena Nyanenkova:  nyanenkova-lowry@un.org

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/glo-act/

Email: glo.act@un.org

Twitter:    @glo_act