A family and juvenile court was launched in Dong Thap on Friday, making it the second province in Vietnam to have a specialized court for children.
Vietnam established its first Family and Juvenile Court, which aims to provide better support and protection for children in contact with the law, in 2016, marking a major milestone for children’s rights in the Southeast Asian country.
“Today’s launching of the Dong Thap Family and Juvenile Court speaks to Vietnam’s continued commitment to uphold children’s rights enshrined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF representative in Vietnam.
The launch of the new court was chaired by Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court Nguyen Hoa Binh.
The establishment of the Family and Juvenile Court is part of wider child justice reforms introduced under the reform Law on Handling of Administrative Violations, the Penal Code, Penal Procedure Code and the Law on Children.
The reforms allow children, families and qualified professionals to participate more fully in judicial proceedings through the application of child-friendly and gender-sensitive procedures and trained specialized judges, who will be able to tailor decisions to the needs of an individual child based on the best interests of the child.
“The establishment of Family and Juvenile Court is not merely about rearranging the structure of the People’s court system,” Le Hong Quang, Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court, said.
“Rather, this institution allows specialization in the handling of family and children’s cases to increase the effectiveness, quality, and shorten the time of adjudication of these cases in the People’s Courts.”
The Family and Juvenile Court is multi-jurisdictional, covering children’s matters in the civil, administrative and criminal law.
Expected to be a central component of Vietnam’s national child protection system, the Family and Juvenile Court plays a vital role in connection with all justice and social sectors to support prevention and response to protection and offending related risks.
Located in the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, Dong Thap is among provinces with high rates of child abuse as well as juvenile offending, according to UNICEF.
UNICEF has been supporting the province to build capacity on child friendly investigation since 2006.
More than 70 police investigators and frontline investigators were trained on child-friendly and gender-sensitive investigation and interview skills.
Dong Thap is also among the first provinces to establish child-friendly police interview rooms at both provincial and district levels.
“Dong Thap deserves congratulations for building the local child protection system, promoting child-friendly justice and community-based support for juveniles in conflict with the law,” Abdel-Jelil.
“I encourage Dong Thap to maintain this momentum, and to be a role model for all provinces.”
In the lead up to the launch of the court, UNICEF has provided training on children’s rights and justice for children to the incoming Family and Juvenile judges.
The training equips 62 judges with an understanding of children’s rights, child and adolescent development and basic skills on child-friendly and gender sensitive procedures.
The first Family and Juvenile Court was launched in Ho Chi Minh City in April 2016.
It is expected that the Family and Juvenile Court will be rolled out across all the provinces of Vietnam.
Violence against children, family violence and breakdown, and offending by children are all interrelated. This complexity requires a coordinated multi-sector response.
Strong coordination is needed by courts, justice, law enforcement, and procuracy agencies in the investigation and prosecution of all cases of violence against children and offending by children.
The provision of legal aid to all children throughout, deployment of a professional cadre of social workers and a wide range of community-based protection, support and care services are critical elements.