Belarus is poised to enact a legislative revamp of its juvenile justice system with the introduction of a new proposal. The draft law targets the prevention of juvenile neglect and delinquency by modifying the structure of closed special educational establishments. The proposed changes aim to consolidate the existing 'educational-rehabilitation' and 'therapeutic-rehabilitation' institutions into a single entity, known as 'special educational institutions' (SEIs).
Revamping Juvenile Justice
Under the existing system, placement in these institutions was permitted only via court order or sentencing. However, the proposed law introduces a significant change, enabling parents to voluntarily commit their children to SEIs if they are found using drugs, alcohol, or other toxic substances. This move has been seen as a major step towards empowering parents to seek immediate aid for their troubled adolescents without the need for court intervention.
Direct Rehabilitation Access
The new law sets forth a mechanism for parents to request comprehensive rehabilitation for their children. They can apply directly to the SEI, specifying the duration of their child's stay, which can range from one academic quarter to one calendar year. Interestingly, the law also provides an option for parents to retrieve their child earlier if deemed necessary, thereby extending a flexibility that was previously absent.
Maintaining Separate Accommodations
One intriguing aspect of the law is its provision to maintain separate accommodations for children committed by their parents and those placed via court decisions. This separation is viewed as a measure to foster a healthier environment for the children and to ensure that those committed voluntarily aren't negatively influenced by those mandated by court orders.
The bill, seen as an effort to optimize the management of the country's few existing institutions, has been submitted to the House of Representatives. It is currently being prepared for its first reading. After passing, it requires approval by the Council of the Republic and the signature of President Lukashenko. The law is expected to be officially published and implemented six months after its approval.