PH International

ZANG Armenian Legal Socialization Program Conference

Armenia | ZANG Armenian Legal Socialization Project | 18 Nov 2009

On November 12, a conference was convened to mark the accomplishments of the ZANG Armenian Legal Socialization Program (ALSP) funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and implemented by PH International since 2003, in close cooperation with the Armenian Police, Juvenile Issues sector. The conference showcased the program key components such as Community Justice Centers (CJC) and School-based Reparative Boards (SRB) and also addressed the program future.

Ann Martin, PH International Executive Director, John Maher, INL Officer from the U.S. Embassy, Nelly Duryan, Head of the Armenian Juvenile Police, Mariam Martirosyan, PH International Armenia Country Director and Lala Ghazaryan from the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues opened the conference with welcoming speeches. They all welcomed the participants and emphasized the significance of the ZANG program efforts on promoting legal socialization and non-conventional restorative justice for Armenian youth.

The conference included presentations by the ZANG staff, CJC coordinators and SRB members. ZANG Program Manager Armine Sukiasyan presented the program overview, the program major accomplishments and current goals. CJC coordinators Armen Bejanyan (Yerevan) and Armine Gmyur-Karapetyan (Gyumri) spoke about the principals underlying the CJC activities and their experiences. There was also a video prepared by the Vanadzor team highlighting one of their cases including interviews with parents who shared their CJC experiences. The SRB component was presented by ZANG Program Coordinator Dzyunik Vanesyan and the first SRB members, students of Yerevan secondary school #69. They spoke about how the SRB was established, their initial concerns and expectations, and lessons learnt from the successful and challenging cases managed by the SRB. The presentation also included interviews with students, head teachers and the school principal who stressed the SRB positive impact on the overall school discipline.

Approximately 80 people attended the conference. Representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Armenia, the Police Department of Armenia, the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues, Ministry if Justice, and many local and international organizations were in attendance. The presentations sparked interest among the conference participants who had a chance to share their impressions and ask questions at the reception following the conference.

ZANG program future was addressed after the reception in two parallel sessions. The first group session engaged PHI staff, CJC coordinators and program partners. The group brainstormed on the ZANG Program operational and financial sustainability. The second session included exchange of team experiences on CJC ongoing activities by the CJC Reparative Board Members and police officers collaborating with the CJCs. The participants’ overall feedback on the conference was highly positive. Nearly all mentioned the relevance of the conference discussion in the process of working with the program stakeholders on the enhancement of the CJCs’ and SRBs’ capacity empowering them to sustainable operations.