Release of the Veillard-Cybulski Association Fund, 15 December 2016

juge tamaunuThe Veillard-Cybulski Association Fund awarded its 2016 prize to the Maori Judge Heemi Taumaunu for his pioneering work entitled “The experience and operating protocols of the Rangatahi Court”, which was instrumental in the creation of Rangatahi courts in New Zealand.

Based on the idea of a justice “for Maoris and by Maoris”, his work is highly relevant considering its results, of its acceptation by the ethnic minority community which is overrepresented in juvenile justice systems, and in regards to its reproducibility in other world regions.

Given that Maori youths make up a disproportionate majority of youths represented before courts for children in conflict with the law in detention centers, the need to devise a new approach became evident. Judge Taumaunu altered the practice of compulsory Conferences for family groups for young Maori delinquents. The practice put into place by Rangatahi courts for showed themselves to be highly effective and useful.

A thorough assessment was carried out, and the efficiency of the practice was emphasized, especially in regard to behavioral change demonstrated by the juvenile delinquent, the whanau and the community. Maori language, protocols and customs were integrated into court hearings, and served to reflect the strengths of Maori culture. Individual and cultural identities were reinforced, as was the respect for the judiciary process as demonstrated by the adolescent and the whanau. In addition, an increasing number of Maori communities requested and supported the Rangatahi courts which have increased in numbers since the time Judge Taumaunu established its protocols. The said protocols were also extended to courts in Pasifiki. Its acceptance on behalf of the Maori community is a testament to its approval by the Maori people.

Judge Taumaunu has taken into account the needs of Maori children in order to understand who they are, and where they come from, in order to bring about behavioral change and for them to be able to develop their potential, their respect and their understanding of cultural identity. It is a system that promotes dignity and an active involvement of the adolescent, the family and the community in addressing delinquency. It is a fact that is reflected within the principle of justice that is adapted to children, based on participation, dignity, the child’s interests, protection against discrimination and the respect of law.

The Veillard-Cybulski Association Fund rewards since 1990 by a CHF 5'000 (env. € 4'000) prize particuarly worthy efforts, especially those who make a new contribution to the development of methods of treatment of children and adolescents and their families in difficulty.

More about the Veillard-Cybulski Association Fund.