In January 2020, the IIJ convened in Malta a Sectoral Workshop for Defense Counsel under the IIJ Juvenile Justice Initiative, one of eight IIJ Core Initiatives. The Sectoral Workshop gathered 50 defence counsel and other practitioners, including investigators, prosecutors, judges and corrections officers, from more than 20 countries across the Sahel, Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, the Western Balkans, and Southeast Asia. The workshop was designed to build the capacity of defence counsels in using and promoting effective practices to protect the rights and ensure the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in terrorism cases, in accordance with international law and juvenile justice standards.
The training was based on the framework of recommendations contained in the new IIJ Defence Counsels’ Juvenile Justice Practitioners’ Note (IIJ Defence Counsels’ Note), which supports the implementation and operationalisation of the GCTF's Neuchâtel Memorandum on Good Practices for Juvenile Justice in a Counterterrorism Context, and which are accompanied by examples of practical application from countries which have participated in previous IIJ workshops.
The workshop opened with a simulated interview between a defence counsel and a child suspect/victim of a terrorism-related crime, drawing on the IIJ Defence Counsels’ Note’s recommendations on how defence counsels can implement and operationalise the Neuchâtel Memorandum, including with regard to protecting juveniles’ rights at all stages of investigation and trial, and juvenile-specific procedures, such as protecting the juveniles’ right to privacy, the importance of taking into consideration a child’s reasoning and cognitive abilities, as well as advocating for diversion programs. The practitioners worked through hypothetical scenarios based on common challenges when handling cases involving juveniles in a counter-terrorism context, providing an opportunity for the practitioners to discuss how their respective countries will use the IIJ Defence Counsels’ Note to implement and operationalise the Neuchâtel Memorandum good practices.
The Defence Counsels’ Note is one of five practitioners’ notes being developed to address the specific needs of sectors involved in supporting juvenile justice in a counter-terrorism context, with other notes addressing the specific needs of investigators, prosecutors, judges and detention officials. Once finalised, these practitioner notes will be available in multiple languages on the IIJ website.
The IIJ is proud to continue to serve as a leader on juvenile justice in a counter-terrorism context, from its role in supporting and guiding the development of the Neuchâtel Memorandum through to delivering impactful capacity-building and the development of tailored tools to support sectoral implementation and operationalisation.
For more information on this workshop or the IIJ Juvenile Justice Initiative, please contact Programme Manager Emerson Cachon.