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A new step toward improving the protection of children who commit criminal offences and are under the age of criminal liability in the Republic of Moldova

2017-10-23

On October 19, 2017, the Ombudsman Institution from the Republic of Moldova, in partnership with Terre des hommes Moldova, organized a conference addressing the legal status of the child who has committed a criminal offense, but did not reach the age of criminal liability.

The conference gathered around the round table both national experts and representatives of all relevant public institutions of the Republic of Moldova, as well as international experts from Romania and Lithuania. The event is a component of the Terre des hommes Moldova advocacy initiative for regulating properly the status of the child under the age of criminal liability who committed a criminal offence, widening and deepening the framework of previous discussions, focusing on the most urgent needs, and discussing Romania’s and Lithuania’s experience, as potential models for Moldova.

As long as children who have committed criminal offenses under the age of 14 will not have a regulated status, providing for specialized services for their re-socialization, they will continue to be ignored by any institution and authority, as is currently the case in Moldova, risking to fortify their criminal behavior and spend their future in prisons. Terre des hommes proposed a detailed regulatory concept, which consists in amending the Law no. 140 of 14.06.2013 on the special protection of children at risk and of children separated from their parents, and stipulates for the introduction of a new chapter in this law referring to the ways of working with and protecting this category of children.

Maia Banarescu, the Moldovan Ombudsman for the Protection of Child's Rights, supports the Terre des hommes Moldova initiative, underlying the need to establish procedures for investigating and solving the cases of children in conflict with the law but who are under the age of criminal liability, and the introduction of educational measures in line with European and international standards on child protection. The Child’s Ombudsman stressed that the new legislation should not affect the age of criminal liability, which will remain unchanged. The new status should only favour the child admission to specialized care, placement and supervision, guidance and verification, general and alternative educational programs. The measures applied to the child must be non-repressive and the specialized services should apply programs adaptable to the specific needs of each child. At the same time, inter-institutional cooperation should be facilitated and the integrated approach should be promoted.

Terre des hommes Moldova representative, Olivia Pirtac-Goaga, emphasized the insistence of the civil society to create a working group with official mandate from the public authorities, which would work, discuss and agree on the concept of the draft law, in this way launching the formal law-making process. In reply, Maia Banarescu confirmed that the Ombudsman Institution from the Republic of Moldova is open to create such a working group under its authority.

We would like to remind that on July 20, 2017, Terre des hommes Moldova Foundation publicly launched its advocacy initiative for the adequate regulation of the status of the child under the age of criminal liability who committed a criminal offence. This activity is being carried out within the framework of the Regional Initiative “Child Protection Hub for South-Eastern Europe”.