Towards a new juvenile justice system in Namibia
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Namibia ’ s moves towards developing a new juvenile justice system for children in conflict commenced a quarter of a century ago. A country which emerged from the ravages of apartheid colonisation and a bloody civil war to gain independence in 1990, Namibia was an early signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1989), and received the advice that the juvenile justice system reform was required upon submission of the initial report in 1994. However, bringing the law reform process to a conclusion has been halting. The first draft of a Child Justice Bill was prepared as early as 1994. In 1999, the Juvenile Justice Interministerial Committee (IMC) commissioned a Discussion Document on Juvenile Justice in Namibia. This did not result in the adoption of a separate juvenile justice statute either. Nevertheless, some gains were made in developing restorative justice and diversion programmes, and slowly the involvement of social workers (acting as probation officers) in the nascent juvenile justice system began to take root. The IMC coordinated substantial activities pertaining to the transformation of criminal justice in steering efforts towards compliance with the CRC. A detailed plan of action was crafted and set in motion. The programme description towards a structured and holistic juvenile justice system contained a number of project interventions, namely: Law Reform, Training, Structures, Service Delivery System, Evaluation and Monitoring and Advocacy and Child Crime Prevention.