Name: Zaid Hamdi / Legal adviser, Mokhalad Jameel / Grants Officer, Qays abbas / Focal Point.
Department: LCN / Juvenile Justice Project.
Subject: Advocacy campaign to activate the role or work of crime prevention council in general and juvenile delinquency in particular in Basra.
Month: Oct 27, 2021.
During the training workshop which was held on 26 October 2021 by LCN for a number of Police officers, the topic of (Counter-crime Council) had been touched upon. The council was formulated on 01 September 2021 by order of Basra Governor, headed by deputy Governor and membership of ten directors and representative of the departments of the Basra Governorate. The purpose of this council is to lay out and implement mechanisms for confronting crime in Basra. Such a mechanism studies the reasons for the spread of crime, investigates the areas where crimes prevail, and defines what groups of people the crime targets; moreover, the council would figure out to address the reasons for crimes. This is in collaboration between the departments representing the council and other relevant departments. The council, despite focusing on the crime in general without predefining an age for a criminal, yet it is quite evident that criminal behavior starts on a large scope at youth. So, the largest targeted group would be juveniles and young people who are part of the Juvenile Justice Project in Basra. At the request of the Basra Police Command Media Director, we envisaged that the first advocacy campaign could be materialized to put the work of this council into effect as this would have a future impact on protecting juveniles against crime when the council proves successful.
Participants of the advocacy session and its objectives:
A representative from Basra Journalists Syndicate, two representatives from Sunni Endowment, one representative from Shiite Endowment in Basra, two representatives from NGO department that reports the office of Basra Governor, Col Zuhair Fuouad Media Section/Basra Police Command, director of Sports & Youth, Law College Dean/Basra Universality, Psychological Health Office Director of Basra Health Department, BG Luay/Basra Police, a representative from Education department, Director of Studies Center of Basra University in addition to Mr. Ali Kadhum from Save the Children, Mrs. Mayameen, and a number of LCN staff. The objective of this session is to coordinate among the entities from which the Counter-Crime Council is formed and other relevant entities; in addition, the session aims to put the work of this council into effect. The session was moderated by the Media Director of Basra Police Command BG Bassem Ghanem.
Topics discussed during the advocacy campaign:
Following the introduction of the participants and a summary demonstrating the circumstances and reasons behind creating this council and the objectives the council seek to deliver, the session was split into three discussion topics.
First Discussion Topic:
Common crimes among juveniles, and areas where crime prevail along with reasons for juvenile delinquency:
Through the discussions among the participants, it turned out that most of the common crimes committed by juveniles are theft, violence whether a domestic one or addressed to the community, homelessness, begging, sexual harassment (especially with child labor because they are sexually exploited), and taking or trading drugs. Such crimes are largely prevailing in the poorest areas, especially in slum areas that are prevalent in Basra. As for why these crimes are prevalent, we could highlight many, the most important of which are:
1-Family fragmentation, and the poor role played by the family in bringing up the children and observing their behavior.
2-Lack of legal awareness demonstrated by the family and society in return for the forceful religious and tribal discourse that is violence-generating.
3-Deteriorated the economic situation of the poor families, which was aggravated by the lack of governmental support.
4-More children dropouts to engage from schools in early child labor.
5-Bad use of the internet where expected family observation is lacking.
Second Discussion Topic:
Barriers that face government institutions:
Many barriers hinder the work of the Government Institutions that tackle juvenile and children despite these institutions having the legal coverage through the Juvenile Care Law 76 of 1983, which supposedly support these entities to prevent juveniles from going delinquent and addressing their crisis, consequently, the existence of this council would facilitate the work embraced by these institutions to confront juvenile delinquency. Below are some of these barriers:
1-Poor rule of law in general, and the tribal power in addition to prevailing weapon and violence in the society.
2-Lack of correction institutions that meet standards stipulated by Juvenile Care Law. This makes it too hard for the judges and the police who deal with juvenile cases and reduces opportunities to address the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency.
3-Lack of impact of educational institutions and other social ones on children who receive education or school dropouts.
4-Lack of cultural or entrainment centers for juvenile or youth and absence of plans that contain their potential and talent during leisure time despite that sports and youth organizations have forums but ineffective in reality.
5-Taking into consideration that there are official data related to delinquent juveniles, types of common crimes committed by juveniles, and the areas where they commit their crimes, yet, such data lack the scientific grounds to be adopted as references for outlining studies and developing plans to address the phenomenon. In this regard, Dr. Aqeel Al-Sabaqh director of the psychological health section of Basra Health Department referred to the existence of only one statistic of the drugs in Iraq that met the standards and was issued in 2015 by the UN.
Third Discussion Topic:
Suggestions raised by the participants:
The participants agreed to develop an action plan to ensure an effective Counter-Crime Council, these suggestions are:
1- Organize a primary meeting to be held between Basra Police Command and Sunni/Shiite Endowments, Sports & Youth Institution, and Mayameen Organization to identify the locations for the council to focus on, and to decide upon the targeted group.
2- More coordination between the entity-members of this council and to figure out a direct communication method among the entities in lieu of official correspondence that takes a long time. In addition, to agree upon creating a What’s App group where all council members would be included.
3- Prepare legal, religious, cultural, and health awareness programs; select Youth & Sports forums in the governorate as premises to implement the programs.
4- Invite international and local organizations to support the work of the council.
5- Organize media campaign by Journalists Syndicate to introduce and support the council through creating a page under the council’s name on social media, or outsource influencers to promote the work of the council and engage the youth and juveniles.
It is quite useful that we continue our support to this council because it aims at preventing crime, prevention here means targeting the criminal behavior since the beginning. Such a behavior, most of the time, starts at younger ages, which corresponds to the objective of the Juvenile Justice Project in Basra (children and Juveniles); moreover, this council includes high and effective government entities in Basra that facilitates – for us as organizations - the quality execution of Juvenile Justice Project.