Assessment of Juvenile Justice Reform Achievements in Bosnia and Herzegovina


Date of publication:  27 Feb 2011 Publisher:  UNICEF Publication type:  Report / Study / Data

The report outlines the background to the development of a juvenile justice system compliant with international standards in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the emphasis on the sequences of national action plans for children, including the National Action Plan for Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2002–2010), the National Strategy against Juvenile Offending (2006–2010) and an establishment of the Juvenile Justice Coordination Body was established in 2009.

The report highlights several good practices employed in BiH, which include:

  • A number of institutions implement good practices:two are located in Banja Luka: a community-based ‘day centre’ for the prevention of offending and an ‘educational-correctional unit’ for convicted juveniles. The day centre offers a broad range of activities, including parent counselling; participation is voluntary. The educational-correctional unit is physically separate from the prison that it forms part of. It resembles a house, and offers a comprehensive programme of activities aiming to prevent reoffending.
  • The newly opened ‘juvenile unit’ in East Sarajevo prison is also a positive development, because convicted juveniles are housed in a separate building designed specifically to meet their needs and ensure separation from older prisoners.
  • The newly established ‘disciplinary centre’ for community-based rehabilitation of offenders in Sarajevo is another good practice. It offers an intensive and comprehensive programme to prevent reoffending. Residential placement is limited to 20 days, and most juveniles participate on a non-residential basis. Recidivism reportedly is low amongst juveniles who have attended this centre, and among those released from the educational-correctional unit in Banja Luka.
  • Specialized police units, responsible for investigating offences committed by juveniles as well as prevention, exist in some cities. Police violence against juveniles reportedly is rare. 

The recommendations made by the assessment team include:
• The next national strategy on juvenile offending should be based on a realistic assessment of
risks and foreseeable constraints; a careful analysis of the changes to the system that are most
urgently needed; and an evidence-based assessment of the cost-effectiveness of the possible
approaches and measures for addressing problems identified as a priority.
• Priority should be given to helping social welfare authorities develop the capacity to fulfil their
responsibilities under the new law; the possibility of increased cooperation with civil society
should be explored; and the role of new services should be defined so as to complement,
and not duplicate, that of the CSWs.
• Priority also should be given to closing existing gaps in secondary prevention programmes
and strengthening diversion programmes, possibly by establishing more disciplinary centres19
and day centres (like the Banja Luka centre) where the need is greatest; the results of such
programmes should be documented as a step towards the identification and consolidation
of methodologies that are effective in the prevention of offending and reoffending.
• The need for residential facilities, the appropriate use of existing facilities and the possible need
for a new facility in the Federation should be reassessed, urgently, to ensure that all juveniles
deprived of liberty are placed in specialized centres providing an appropriate level of security,
adequate conditions and programmes designed to meet the needs of the respective populations.
• The effectiveness of different dispositions, measures and sentences should be monitored and
analysed to evaluate the impact of the new law and the way prosecutors and judges exercise
their discretion.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

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