Government Agencies and NGOs present success of Juvenile Justice Welfare Act after 10 years of Implementation

Written by Ma. Luisa Bautista

Manila, Philippines – In partnership with UNICEF, Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council and Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee – NCR, the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) initiated the 2016 Juvenile Justice Congress.

 The conference is all about reflecting on the 10 years of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) and it was held at Microtel by Wyndham UP Techno Hub, on May 17-18.

As part of the commemoration on the 10 years of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, the Juvenile Justice Congress sets as a platform for presentation the success of implemented intervention programs for children at risk (CAR) and children in conflict with the law (CICL). The said congress was participated by national government agencies (NGAs), local government units (LGUs) and non-government organizations (NGOs).

In her opening remarks, Sarah Norton-Staal, Child Protection Section Chief of UNICEF, said that there is a lot to be done for CICL, which is to use alternatives to pretrial detention, post-trial detention and restorative justice approaches.

“The unique situation of CICL requires us to work together for CICLs to have a brighter future,” Staal said as she looked forward to the activity to be a guide in developing programs for the implementation of the JJWA.

The event was also joined by the beneficiaries from Association Compassion Asian Youth (ACAY) - Second Chance Program and the HLAF Center for Restorative Action (CRA) Program who gave their testimonials on how the rehabilitation and reintegration programs of ACAY and the training and mentoring programs of CRA helped them change their lives.

The congress prepared workshops to facilitate the discussion among the participants to tackle issues on the implementation of the JJWA. It summarized the fact that many NGAs and NGOs need further collaboration to strengthen the capacity building of duty bearers, to develop data banking and to document the different JJWA interventions. 

In his closing remarks, Atty. Rommel Alim Abitria challenged the participants to continue to work together to properly implement the law.  He said, “Perhaps, the reason why we need to organize an event such as the Juvenile Justice Congress is to know these successes of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. It works! It is implementable! We, stakeholders, just need to work together and collaborate with one another because it’s not an easy task. And hopefully, after knowing that the law works, we can renew our commitment to bringing hope and second chances to more children who do not have the resources and the opportunity to work for a better future.” 

The Juvenile Justice Congress aims for continuous bearing of its purpose in order to sustain the present interventions and to develop recommendations regarding the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act in accord with the HLAF partners, NGAs, LGUs and NGOs, in fighting for the same cause – the prevention of the children at risk and the protection of the children in conflict with the law.