Attended by Mr Alin Lucian Antochi (State Secretary for the Romanian Ministry of Justice) Mircea Criste (Deputy Ombudsman), Mr Catalin Claudiu Bejan (National Administration of Penitentiaries) and Mr Luis Fábrica (Chairman Meridians International) at the opening ceremony of the Conference.
In his speech Mr Bejan expressed a desire to send a message of social convergence, as well as the firm intention of modernising correctional services in Romania in order to reach European standards with regard to juvenile justice. This includes legislating on educational centres and making an effort to bring about cooperation between institutions in order to effectively reintegrate young people into society. He emphasized the need to find solutions together by analysing the best practices and ideas in order to fully address, both legally and educationally, the situation in which young people are in conflict with the law. As host for the day, he presented the rest of the attendees who opened the Conference.
Mr Antonchi believes that it is essential to know and discuss the reasons why young people commit crimes, so that we may discover the shortcomings in their upbringing and education. He also believes that young people must be treated differently to adults in legal and educational terms. “We must continue insisting, because if we do, we will succeed.”
Mr Fábrica claimed that all those attending the conference shared one problem, specifically that “we are old,” and that we face not only the problems of our age but also the ageing of society, and the emergence of new problems that require us to think about how to look after the old, but also within this context the young. Some of the ideas that he shared with us are prioritising child care, therefore ensuring that they are able to develop their talents and skills, and creating opportunities for young people. This last is the mission of MERIDIANOS, an organisation which represents and develops innovative programmes in this field and defends the specialization of professionals and the appropriateness and proportionality of judicial measures for minors, promoting educational processes that ensure appropriate social integration for young people. He congratulated the Romanian government on the bold decision to instigate changes in the field of juvenile justice.
To finish the first conference, Mr Cristie congratulated the organisers on the importance of the topic that was to be discussed, which is relevant to young people and therefore to the future of society. In his previous role as a judge he was aware of the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency – in as much as he understands all aspects of juvenile justice – and the necessity of progressing with the development of actions which ensure optimum conditions for the care and protection of children. He explained how Romania has joined conventions and adhered to international standards in order to guarantee this protection, and how reports are prepared by his department which collates recommendations for policy development in this area.
To conclude, Mr Bejan acknowledged the involvement of three prominent journalists who were to act as moderators on the different panels: Mrs Carmen Avram, Mrs Liana Stanciu, and Mr Alexandru Cumpănaşu, all of whom are recognized and committed voices.