The Government of Switzerland in partnership with UNICEF launched a transformative new project, Realizing children’s equitable access to justice in Tajikistan, last month.  The project worth of 1 million USD is a big step forward in Tajikistan's efforts to enhance its justice and child protection systems, says press release issued by UNICEF Tajikistan.

Despite numerous reforms in recent years, justice system for children reportedly uses outdated approaches that do not comply with international standards, including UN Convention on the Rights of the Children.  Although Tajikistan has made tremendous developments on application of non - custodial measures for children in conflict with the law, diversion mechanisms that support to restore justice for victims of crime and prevent children to get criminal records are lacking. 

The essential goal of the project is the development and promotion of a diversion system by the Government of Tajikistan as part of the newly adopted Juvenile Justice System Reform Program for 2023-27.  Diversion program for children in conflict with the law aims to provide alternative solutions to the traditional juvenile justice system.  The focus is on rehabilitation, education, and reintegration, rather than punishment.

The project also aims at matching Tajikistan's laws, policies, and practices with international standards to improve child justice.  The campaign will cover 100 schools across all regions in Tajikistan targeting at-risk adolescents, schoolchildren, parents, and caregivers, as well as boys and girls in conflict with the law.

The project is expected to build resilience among children and young people while empowering them to thrive in a more tolerant, inclusive, peaceful, and safe environment.  By equipping them with the necessary skills and competencies, the goal is to enable children to reach their full potential and make meaningful contributions as responsible and productive citizens of their communities and country.  Various experts, including judges, law enforcement authorities, lawyers, social workers, teachers, and local community leaders, will actively participate in the initiative.

Furthermore, the initiatives will help Tajikistan's government map its existing social service personnel and improve coordination between the legal system and social welfare.  The program will also develop the skills and knowledge of law enforcement and justice professionals regarding the application of international child-friendly justice principles and produce evidence to support the introduction of diversion mechanisms.

Within its Cooperation Program for Central Asia (2022-2025), Switzerland focuses on supporting economic, social and democratic development, promoting an integrated and regional approach in the complex field of transboundary water management, strengthening economic ties and promoting good governance.