Instead of having fun, the concerns and questions of the deputies regarding the juvenile delinquent detention center that the state wants to operate outside the central ones intensified yesterday. prisons.
The members of the Finance Committee of the Parliament, who constitute the majority, Christiana Erotokritou, Aristos Damianou, Andreas Kafkalias, Christos Christofidis, Sotiris Ioannou and Alekos Tryfonidis, refused yesterday to release the fund that opens € 719.6. Justice for the announcement of a European tender, due to the involvement of individuals in the whole project. To be precise, the infrastructure will belong to private individuals, private individuals will manage the center with their own scientific staff, private individuals will take care of the center where only minors between 16-18 years old who have committed serious criminal offenses will be detained. AKEL MP Mr. Aristos Damianou complained to the Parliament yesterday that companies come and go in Cyprus in order to claim the project which, as estimated, for its operation the state will bear a cost estimated at € 1 million per year.
Why they react
There are two main reasons why a majority of MEPs do not agree to the release of the budget:
- 1 The juvenile detention center is a permanent need and obligation of the state towards the EU. Therefore, instead of the state creating its own infrastructure and training permanent staff for its staff, it grants this permanent need to the private sector by purchasing services. The amount of € 1 million estimated to cost the operation of the juvenile detention center per year is preliminary and will increase, as we were told, depending on the number of juvenile offenders being accommodated.
- 2 Even if the position proposed yesterday in Parliament by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Stefi Drakou, is accepted, that the state does not have at its disposal two and a half years to create privately owned infrastructure and to train staff to staff the juvenile detention center, for the majority of Members the issue of security is non-negotiable. And they made it clear yesterday. They completely disagree with the decision of the Council of Ministers as the security of the center and the control of the visitors, the staff and their objects is undertaken by a private office providing security services. The majority of MPs believe that security issues should remain in the state and if the Police can not take responsibility, then, the guarding of the center was suggested to be taken over by special police officers. The possibility of police officers taking over the security of the center was rejected because, according to Ms. Drakou, “the presence of uniformed people does not create a friendly environment for children who are in conflict with the law.”
Aristos Damianou also raised a legal question, which Ms. Drakou undertook to answer in writing after receiving an opinion from the Legal Service: To what extent does our Constitution or jurisprudence allow the delegation of custody of offenders to individuals? >
Obstruction of five years
It should be noted that the new legislation for the treatment of children in conflict with the law has been debated in Parliament since 2016 and was passed only in April 2021. That is, five years were left without doing anything at all, resulting in Parliament but also the Minister of Justice herself to be in front of accomplished events today. They are called in a short time to create the new detention structure for juvenile offenders that was not created five years ago and of course, the fastest solution is to outsource. AKEL MPs spoke about methods by Ms. Drakou's predecessors to end up in the hands of individuals.
All to individuals
According to Ms. Drakou, neither the State nor the private sector of Cyprus have the know-how and expertise to take over the operation of a penitentiary institution for juvenile offenders. Hence, the tender that will be announced, if and when the Parliament finally releases the fund, will be pan-European and will include the United Kingdom, where such private detention centers for juvenile offenders operate. At the detention center, juvenile offenders will follow a daily schedule. Their reform will be sought through education depending on their age, but also their personal circumstances. The Minister of Justice assured the deputies that there will be strict and strong supervision and that in the terms of the competition there are several safety valves, while sudden checks will be made at the center, both by the Ministry of Justice and the offices of the Commissioners for the Protection of Child Rights and Of Administration.
Yes, but by a commissioner
The Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, Mr. Despo Michailidou, after acknowledging that in Cyprus there is not the necessary know-how , supported the operation of a private detention center for juvenile offenders, provided that the terms of the contract to be signed with the private contractor include such provisions and conditions that allow the state to exercise effective control over the operation of detention facilities. >