Child Protection in Bolivia

by Save the Children Federation
Child Protection in Bolivia
Child Protection in Bolivia
Child Protection in Bolivia
Child Protection in Bolivia
Child Protection in Bolivia
Child Protection in Bolivia
Child Protection in Bolivia
Child Protection in Bolivia
A Chance to Start Again
A Chance to Start Again

Save the Children International in Bolivia is pleased to present this year’s fourth and last report on the project “A Chance to Start Again”. The project promotes restorative justice mechanisms for adolescents, aged 14 – 18 years old, in conflict with the law. It encourages the adolescent’s participation in educational programs to facilitate their integration into society. And as part of the program, we also work with parents and family members to restore family ties and to improve the social and emotional support the adolescents receive.

Working directly with teens detained in the Center for Social Reintegration Cometa has allowed us to pilot an Intervention Model for Adolescents in Conflict with the Law, which is aligned with Bolivia’s National Child and Adolescent Code (Law 548).

We are excited that 100% of the expected results for our direct intervention work have been met, including the direct support provided to the adolescents in conflict with the law as well as support mechanisms established for their families.

Teens detained in Cometa have, during the course of 2016, improved their personal and social skills through educational programs, and are on track to complete the process of rehabilitation.

We were also able to work with and educate families of detained teens on their legal rights and the juvenile justice system. In addition, we held workshops and training sessions to help families bond with their children and support them in their rehabilitation process.

At the national level, the project has been able to raise awareness on the importance of restorative justice mechanisms for adolescents in conflict with the law. We strengthened the capacities of judges, public defenders, federal prosecutors, police, social workers and other public servants, to implement restorative justice mechanisms when dealing with adolescents in conflict with the law. Simply put, these front-line public servants, on whom teens caught up in the legal system depend, are now more aware of how to apply Bolivia’s legal code in a way that honors the restorative approach upon which it rests.

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A Chance to Start Again
A Chance to Start Again

We are pleased to present this year’s third report of the project “A chance to start again”. The project aims at improving the access to justice at national level for adolescents between 14 to 18 years old and in conflict with the law, trying to bring an answer to the following problems and challenges the country faces in the Juvenile Justice System: the grave delays in the justice system, deprivation of liberty as a common measure to penalize youth, the lack of effective restorative justice mechanisms and the lack of specialized centers for the social reintegration as well as the social-educative orientation of adolescents in conflict with the law.

During the past months, direct interventions in the Center for Social Reintegration Cometa have allowed 102 adolescents to participate in daily sessions to receive educational and psychological support and a total of 90 adolescents to access weekly workshops to strengthen their social skills. Role plays, music and discussion forums help adolescents to reflect about their lives and improve their social behavior.

The project was also able to finalize the design and validation process of the Social Skills Guide for the Social Reintegration Process of Adolescents in Conflict with the Law, which has been developed specifically for adolescents in conflict with the law, and the Informative Guide about Juvenile Justice with a Restorative Approach, which is one of the most innovative products of the project. It is a pedagogic tool to inform the adolescents and their families about the legal framework, characteristics and integral entities of the criminal justice system for adolescents.

We have implemented Parenting School sessions, offering training workshops in “Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting”, a methodology developed by SCI Sweden and the University of Manitoba (Canada) to promote non-violent upbringing. In the monthly sessions with an average of 30 participants, the parents also received training on non-violent communication strategies to improve their relationships with their children, as well as on legal defense techniques for adolescents in conflict with the law. To provide additional legal support free of charge to these families, an agreement was established with the legal office of the Law Department of the Universidad Mayor de San (UMSS) to provide consultative legal services for families with limited resources.

 A highlight during this reporting period has been the establishment of an Interinstitutional work agreement between the Ministry of Justice, the National Judges School and Save the Children International which will contribute greatly to the sustainability of the project and strengthens the rights-based approach of the project’s intervention.

“This agreement with Save the Children International is a strategic alliance to be able to train administrators of the justice system Save the Children International has the necessary experience in this area and lives the reality of these adolescents. We are very happy about this agreement.”
– Gery, Head of the Training Unit of the National Judges School.

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With this project, we are working so that adolescents in conflict with the law in Bolivia are able to access justice that is effective and restorative – focused on promoting alternative measures to incarceration as well as their participation in socio educational programs that help them reintegrate into society and repair family ties.

To date, we have worked with 95 adolescents currently imprisoned in “Centro Cometa” – the only juvenile detention center in the state of Cochabamba – helping them develop social and academic skills through workshops and trainings. These activities are helping the teenagers take more responsibility for their past actions, as well as reducing the probability of recidivism once they leave the center. We have also worked with over 40 parents of these adolescents, providing them with legal support to speed up their children’s legal processes and giving them information on how to create positive bonds with them.

At national level, we have reached over 150 juvenile justice system operators, including judges, public defenders, prosecutors, specialized center’s staff and civil society organizations through workshops to strengthen the local juvenile justice roundtables in the nine departments (states) of the country. At these roundtables, we have disseminated important information, such as the national and international regulations to implement the “Specialized Juvenile Justice System for Adolescents.” These are key spaces where we have been advocating for changes in the attitudes and punitive practices commonly carried out by Bolivia’s justice operators and authorities, and urging authorities to implement the new restorative and socio educational justice system for adolescents, which became the law of the land in 2014, but which has yet to be fully implemented by those in charge.

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Child Protection in Bolivia: 2015 Highlights
Child Protection in Bolivia: 2015 Highlights

The project’s objective is to respond to the main problems and challenges the country faces in the area of Child Protection. The specific objective of the project is that teens aged 14 to 18 years old who are in conflict with the law improve their access to justice, including restorative justice, in the nine states of the country.

Here are some of our 2015 highlights:

In 2015, 50 of the 110 teens living in Cometa (5 girls and 45 boys) participated in the baseline study. The project also helped 53 of Cometa’s teens improve their knowledge about their fundamental rights and duties. The findings of the baseline will allow us to gauge progress as we continue working directly with the teens who are incarcerated at Cometa.

“I kept on thinking about the question that I was asked – What are the rights you have as adolescents? – I thought that because I had committed a crime I had lost all my rights.” 15-year-old adolescent of the center Cometa who participated in the baseline study. December 2015.

Another priority is to engage parents of incarcerated teens with the proper resources that they need. Working with families is particularly challenging. For instance, only 40% of the parents visit their children, mostly on Sundays. Accordingly, we will need to develop innovative strategies to be able to reach out to them and achieve our set goals, since it is evidently very important for teens to have their families’ support so they can overcome their current situation and go on with productive lives once they have regained their freedom.

Another objective set for 2015 was to establish strategic partnerships with authorities. The project has been recognized by major organizations and authorities at the national level. Strong partnerships have been formed and project actions have been planned jointly. Moreover we are starting collaborations with the Ministry of Justice, the Plurinational Service of Public Defense, the State’s School of Judges and the Plurinational School for Public Management.

“We, the Ministry of Justice and Fundamental Rights, know that we will not be able to resolve all the problems that the justice system is currently facing alone. There are not many organizations that want to get involved in this topic. This is why we are open regarding this project to work in collaboration with Save the Children.”

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Organization Information

Save the Children Federation

Location: Fairfield, CT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @savethechildren
Project Leader:
Gil Lima
Fairfield, CT United States

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