Youth Justice and Conflict Transformation: What is the Future following Devolution?
More than 100 academics, rights activists and those working with and for children and young people in conflict with the law gathered at Queen's University Belfast today for a seminar critically examining the state of youth justice in Northern Ireland.
Jointly organised by the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Youth, Conflict and Justice at Queen's and Include Youth the event focused on three themes: youth and social justice; youth justice and conflict transformation; and the implications of devolution.
Speaking at the event, Paddy Mooney, Director of Include Youth said:
"While we acknowledge that the system has gone some way to improving how we deal with children and young people, we continue to see looked after children over represented in the youth justice system and remain concerned about the inappropriate use of custody, in particular for those with complex needs.
"Today's discussion aims to revitalise and renew our shared commitment to putting children's best interests at the heart of our youth justice system, not just in principle but in demonstrable practice and concrete actions."
Dr Nicola Carr, from Queen's University Belfast, said:
"Reform of the youth justice system has been central to the process of conflict transformation, however, there are many outstanding areas where further work is needed in order to fulfil commitments towards children's rights."
Professor Lesley McAra, from the University of Edinburgh, and Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, delivered keynote addresses followed by an expert panel debate with representatives from the Youth Justice Agency, PSNI and children's rights NGOs.
In December 2015 the Criminal Justice Inspection reported that 41 per cent of the Youth Justice Review recommendations were yet to be implemented and although Include Youth welcomed the then Justice Minister's statement on the preliminary outcomes of the Scoping Study on children in the justice system we still await further detail on what actions will follow in this new mandate with a new Justice Minister. View photos here or check out #YJNI on Twitter for more information.