Building a Specialized Prosecutor’s Office in the Juvenile Justice System

As civil society institutions that contribute to Restorative Juvenile Justice in Bolivia we,

want to highlight the work of the members of the Bolivian Adolescent Criminal System. In this communiqué we make special mention of the Public Ministry, in its commitment to specialize the Juvenile Justice unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

With the approval of the Child and Adolescent Code (CNNA, 2014), Bolivia assumed the challenge of building a specific “specialized” system of Criminal Justice for Adolescents. Thus, this norm determines that, in addition to the responsibilities established by the Organic Law of the Public Ministry, there are specific attributions of the Specialized Prosecutors:

– Promote and require the de-judicialization, whenever it is appropriate, and

– Promote and require the application of alternative measures. (Art. 275)

In both of these responsibilities, the prosecutor’s office must review and monitor compliance with the new restorative justice mechanisms. Thus, it should put in place:

  • Specialized prosecutors. This implies that in each department there should be prosecutors who are responsible for hearing cases in which an adolescent is alleged to have committed a crime.
  • The permanent training of these prosecutors. Indeed, having a specialized system means that, in addition to having specific prosecutors to handle cases of adolescents with criminal responsibility, these prosecutors must be trained to respond to the objectives pursued by the Criminal Justice for Adolescents and Restorative Justice.

In this scenario, the State Attorney’s Office assumed this commitment in 2019 with the creation of specialized prosecutor’s offices: among them, the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Juvenile Criminal Justice and Environmental Crimes.

As a result of this effort and with the support of civil society, there are now 11 specialized prosecutors throughout the country. Measures were taken to train these prosecutors, under a principle of specialization. In this regard, the State Attorney General’s Office, with the support of CDC, ProgettoMondo and Tutator, in 2019 put in place a training process with the participation of national and Peruvian experts, in international and national standards in criminal justice for adolescents.

To facilitate the training of prosecutors who do not have access to the Internet a virtual course that functions off-line occurred in September 2020. Thus, more than 538 prosecutors were trained in the country, including Directors and Senior Prosecutors.

In addition to the above, it is worth noting the participation of the prosecutor’s office in various spaces of inter-institutional coordination. An example of this is an official note requesting that specialized prosecutors provide assistance to technical teams of restorative justice and orientation centers for the correct application of the mechanisms.

Finally, we, the three civil society organizations, call on the State Prosecutor’s Office to continue with the specialized work of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, recognizing and valuing its contribution to the proper respect of the rights of children and adolescents in the country.

Authors

CDC, ProgettoMondo y Tutator

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