Right to defense is most often violated among delinquent minors

According to a study carried out by the ombudswoman for children’s rights Maia Bănărescu, 28 minors of 38 said they saw the lawyer only on the court’s hall or in the courtroom already. The ombudswoman says any minor in the legal system should be treated like a child and should benefit from all the rights guaranteed by law.

In an interview for IPN, Maia Bănărescu said the observance of children’s right to justice is very important. The cases involving minors should be examined by a tribunal or court for children. First of all, mechanisms for preventing juvenile delinquency and mediation should be developed. The probation service should function so as to avoid recidivism.

When it goes to arrest, the minor should not be held in a remand prison, but should be placed under house arrest under the responsibility of parents. Regrettably, there are no other placement services for delinquent children and problems appear when the minor cannot be taken home at the criminal investigation stage.

Maia Bănărescu said that a law adopted in 2018 specifies a number of stages of work with the child who committed a deviation. The law also envisions the construction of a semi-closed center for minors who went through three stages, but didn’t improve their behavior. The minor can be placed in this service only based on a court decision, with the participation of the defense, legal representative, etc. The practice of other states shows that these centers have a beneficial effect on children.

The ombudswoman also said that even if the law was passed in 2018, nothing was done last year. The law provides that the Government should adjust the legislation to its provisions and should work out quality standards for the services provided by this center. There was identified a suitable building in Soroca, but it is not yet clear how this center should work.

As to child-friendly justice, with regard to child victims or witnesses, Maia Bănărescu noted that there are the international standards to which Moldova aligned itself. These say how the areas for interviewing children should be outfitted and how the persons who discuss with minors should be trained. Common centers should be created for assisting minor victims and not only. Such centers provide all the necessary services in one place – legal, medical, psychological. This way, the child will not need to go to specialists in different places. These services will be provided not only to victims, but also to child witnesses and abusers.

The interview titled “June 1, International Children’s Day. Children have their rights” forms part of IPN’s project “Injustice Revealed through Multimedia”.