The issue of adopting policies which are in the best interests of children came under spotlight at the launch of the pre-trial diversion (PTD) programme by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in the capital today.

The programme is a systematic process of diverting children in conflict with the law from the main stream judicial system.

PTD which resonates with Section 81 of the Constitution which states that a child should only be detained as a matter of last resort is aimed at providing rehabilitative justice, said Justice Elfas Chitakunye the chairperson of the programme.

“PTD is aimed at providing restorative justice and move away from punitive justice which causes stigma,” he said.

Working in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to ensure the success of PTD, UNICEF has availed office furniture to assist in the rolling out of the programme in various districts.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi highlighted that the programme is an outstanding achievement whose provisions will be given in the child’s justice bill which is currently being drafted.

“The PTD’s main thrust is not to have juveniles avoid consequences from their behaviour but to provide the youth with consequences based upon restorative principles,” said the Minister.

The PTD programme commenced as a pilot project in 2009 and since then, cases of young offenders have decreased from 1 012 in 2013 to 402 in 2018.