John Orlando,
head of Tdh's Panama delegation

"Central America is one of the most violent regions in the world. Young people are forced into gangs of delinquents and organised crime. Often, the only answer is taking away offenders' freedom. But prison is a school for criminals."

A new restorative justice programme for juveniles

John Orlando, head of Tdh's Panama delegation, discusses the importance of the new Regional Project for Juvenile Justice and Prevention of Violence in Central America.

“Specialist agencies consider Central America the world’s most violent region. The infamous “Northern Triangle”, made up of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, has an alarming homicide rate of one death every 43 minutes. This is worse than in countries at war. In addition, there is a huge disparity between rich and poor, a significant breakdown in family relations and a lack of monitoring for children living in the most vulnerable areas. Children and young people are forced into gangs of delinquents and - even worse - organised crime. Legal systems tend to apply severe measures that do not focus on re-education. Often, the only answer is taking away offenders' freedom. But prison is a school for criminals. Without real reintegration programs, children are likely to re-offend as adults.”

“This is where restorative justice for juveniles, an approach supported by Tdh, comes into play. The idea is to help public institutions improve legal measures, implement plans for preventing juvenile violence and develop programmes for children. This is done while respecting one of Tdh’s fundamental principles, which is based on ‘non-substitution’ for state responsibilities. Tdh supports the reform of legal systems so they comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and various related international standards and directives.”