500 Juveniles for Reintegration Into Society

The European Union-funded project provides alternative sanctions to serving time in prison for Bamenda children.

Metropolitan Bamenda is credited with the first ever project to give child law-breakers a chance of being reformed instead of going to prison. The European Union-funded project was launched on April 9, 2015, in Bamenda, with the commitment of stakeholders to work towards alternatives to the detention of children.

The project will help re-integrate 500 delinquent children in society, create ways and means for them to compensate victims, and raise awareness on the rights and opportunities for children. It is all about diversion, humane incarceration and re-integration of children in conflict with the law. In effect, juvenile justice reforms have taken roots in Bamenda to eliminate criminal records of children and improve the way police treat them. It is indeed a unique project conceived and embraced by a community that believes in its rights.

The Coordinator of the project, Chongsi Joseph Ayeah, of the Centre for Human Rights and Peace Aocacy (CHRAPA), revealed that it was conceived to strengthen the role of the civil society. The project also seeks to decentralize mechanisms for protecting the rights of children at the pre-trial, trial, detention and post-detention stages, and spread public awareness. The pilot phase covers two years during which child crime wave is expected to be reduced.

The Inspector General in the North West Governor’s office, Ivo Makoge, was around with the blessings of the administration for a project which speaker after speaker saluted for its expected impact to transform wayward children into productive members of the community. The Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council, Ndumu Nji Vincent, promised the commitment of the city for the project’s success. The representative of the European Union (EU), Ann Charlotte Sallmann, said the project was in line with EU priorities in Cameroon and encouraged stakeholders to participate.

The EU, CHRAPA, Bamenda City Council and HEDECS believe that most young offenders have the capacity to change for the better and that alternative sanctions could help. They recommend probation, intensive supervision, restitution, community service and restorative justice.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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