Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Morocco, Speciose Hakizimana, stated on June 19, in Skhirat, that the justice system for children in Morocco is among the best globally.
Intervening at the inauguration of the National Conference on the Protection of Children in Contact with the Law: State of Play and Perspectives, Hakizimana stated that “UNICEF praises with great satisfaction the operationalization of territorial child protection mechanisms in Morocco, which represents a significant step in the territorial implementation of the integrated public protection policy.”
Hakizimana stressed that the UNICEF team has worked with the Public Prosecutor’s Office and other national stakeholders to establish a holistic approach to justice for children based on respect for children’s rights and in line with international standards, noting that Morocco and UNICEF enjoy a strategic partnership for child protection.
In this regard, the UNICEF representative cited the implementation of the justice reform charter and the integrated public policy for child protection, highlighting the achievement of enabling over 70% of children in contact with the law to benefit from alternatives to detention.
Hakizimana added that this commitment to children has contributed to improving the quality, coverage, and access of vulnerable children and families to services aimed at preventing and responding to all forms of violence against young girls and boys residing in Morocco.
The United Nations (UN) official also emphasized that the conference is an opportunity to discuss and define the conditions needed to strengthen the national child protection system based on a solid legal and regulatory framework and specific child protection policies, adding that access to a more appropriate judicial system can change the lives of several vulnerable children, particularly those who are victims or in contact with the law.
For her part, the European Union’s (EU) Ambassador to Morocco, Patricia Llombart Cussac, emphasized that for Morocco and the European Union (EU), children and youth are essential for the development of society, regardless of their geographical or social situation, noting that children must be able to fully benefit from their rights and the protection of the State.
Llombart Cussac stressed that childhood is at the center of the European Union’s (EU) priorities, which favor a global and multidisciplinary approach, recalling that in March 2021, the European Union (EU) adopted a strategy on the rights of the child that takes into account latest developments and persistent challenges and places children and their best interests at the core of European Union (EU) policies.
In this regard, the European Union’s (EU) Ambassador to Morocco stressed that these principles guide the European Union (EU) in its external relations, a fortiori with its strategic partners such as Morocco, considering that the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the application of the best interests of the child in all circumstances is a core value shared with Morocco.
“The European Union (EU) is therefore delighted to have been supporting the Ministry of Solidarity, Social Integration, and Family for a while in implementing pilot territorial protection schemes,” expressed Llombart Cussac, further adding that “we are also partners of the justice sector, particularly the Presidency of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which has spared no effort in granting judicial protection to children in contact with the law, with the aim of establishing a justice system adapted to children and respectful of their rights.”
Llombart Cussac stated that this conference is a milestone in this process, welcoming the launch of this national conference aimed at clarifying, organizing, and codifying coordination between the two poles of the child protection system, namely judicial protection and social care, including the referral of children with the appropriate services.
Organized by the Presidency of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, in partnership with the Ministry of Solidarity, Social Integration, and Family and UNICEF, and with the support of the European Union (EU), these conferences are part of the ongoing consolidation of Morocco’s achievements and progress in protecting children in contact with the law.
Held under the theme “For the Effective and Integrated Care of Children in Contact with the Law,” this event aims to provide an ideal opportunity to highlight the achievements attained and to discuss the challenges and constraints that hamper the child protection system.
This conference is an opportunity to debate several issues relating to the child protection system through thematic workshops to draft recommendations and conclusions to mark a further step toward protecting and promoting children’s rights in Morocco.
The inauguration ceremony was marked by the signing of a framework agreement between His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s Public Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation, Moulay El Hassan Daki, Minister of Solidarity, Social Integration, and Family, Aawatif Hayar, and Minister for Youth, Culture, and Communication, Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid.
This framework agreement aims to strengthen the protection of children through the consolidation of services dedicated to children, close coordination between the different actors to meet the interests of children, and the implementation of appropriate protection mechanisms for children according to their legal status and needs.