UN supports creation of first ‘closed’ juvenile rehabilitation centre in Afghanistan

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has created a new “closed” juvenile rehabilitation centre in Afghanistan – the first of its kind in the war-torn nation – to provide young offenders with the training and counselling they need to make better lives for themselves once they complete their sentences.

Located in the capital, Kabul, the Centre “aims to reduce re-offending and to promote rehabilitation in a more appropriate and effective way than traditional punitive measures,” according to a press release issued by UNODC.

The Centre is a pilot project that the agency has begun in Kabul and hopes to expand throughout Afghanistan, which is seeking to rebuild a functioning juvenile justice system following decades of conflict.

While essentially a correctional facility for serious offenders – both boys and girls – under the age of 18, the Centre represents an “innovative system” in that it also provides educational and vocational training, as well as psychosocial counselling, Matteo Pasquali from UNODC’s Country Office for Afghanistan, told the UN News Service.

The Centre provides a place to rehabilitate children in conflict with the law – as offenders under 18 are referred to under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Afghanistan is a party – rather than just punish them, Mr. Pasquali stated.

Prior to the opening of the new facility, juvenile offenders served their sentences in “open centres,” which allowed the children to go home at the end of each day, he added.

The newly inaugurated Centre, constructed by UNODC with financial assistance from the Italian Government, is part of the agency’s larger criminal justice reform programme in Afghanistan.

During the past three years, UNODC has also supported the establishment of a Juvenile Justice Department within the Ministry of Justice, set up new premises for the Juvenile Court of Kabul and provided training on juvenile justice and rehabilitation.