From 10-12 October 2023, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) travelled to Bali to convene its second in-person post-COVID regional juvenile justice programme in Southeast Asia. In collaboration with the Indonesian National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT), the IIJ offered the IIJ Juvenile Justice Initiative: Child-Sensitive Approaches for Southeast Asian Practitioners in a Counter-Terrorism Context to capitalise on the momentum generated at the March 2023 regional programme held in Manila and continue its efforts to disseminate the IIJ Juvenile Justice Notes for Practitioners.
This event, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau, was the first in a series of focused technical workshops to support implementation of the national priority recommendations the participating countries made at the March programme in Manila. The event brought together 46 seasoned investigators, social workers, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, military staff, and other relevant actors from Indonesia, Malaysia, and The Philippines. They were joined by subject-matter specialists from the United Kingdom Metropolitan police, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and selected IIJ staff.
The workshop provided participants with in-depth child-sensitive investigative and interviewing approaches, and enhanced their understanding of and capacity to explore alternatives to prosecution and detention in the treatment of children thought to be associated with terrorist, violent extremist, and armed groups.
The event began with a presentation of key highlights and national recommendations identified during the Manila meeting, and a showcase of practical follow-up actions each country had undertaken to fulfil them. Two presenters then led a rich and impactful discussion on techniques tailored to effectively interviewing children encountered while enforcing counter-terrorism measures, ensuring their rights and well-being are respected throughout the process.
Through country examples, regional practitioners were encouraged to exercise heightened prosecutorial discretion before bringing charges against children in a counter-terrorism context. Even when charging decision is necessary, practitioners were urged to explore the various diversionary measures or other relevant alternative options existing in their country. When prosecution is the only option left, they were advised to explore and apply alternatives other than detention, and consider deprivation of liberty only in exceptional cases, and as a last resort. Even in such cases, appropriate care should be provided to the children to safeguard their rights and ensure their successful rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.
On the event last day, participants conferred in two breakout sessions, each followed by a plenary session. The first breakout session involved a fact-pattern exercise, during which participants applied child-sensitive principles and the concepts they had learned on interviewing and investigative techniques. In the second breakout session, participants developed practical recommendations to bring about changes in national pre-trial approaches to better handle children affected by terrorist, violent extremist, and armed groups in line with international norms.
For more information on this workshop, please contact IIJ Programme Manager Mr. Emerson Cachon.