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Pictured L-R: Dr Nicola Carr, Professor Lesley McAra, Commissioner for Children and Young People Koulla Yiasouma, Dr Clare Dwyer, Dr Paula Rodgers and Dr Siobhan McAlister.

On the 5th of October 2016, the School of Law was host to over 100 academics, rights activists and those working with and for children in conflict with the law, who came together to critically examine the state of youth justice.  The event was jointly organised by the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Youth, Conflict and Justice at Queen's and Include Youth and funded by the Senator George Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.  The event focused on three themes: youth and social justice; youth justice and conflict transformation; and the implications of devolution.

Professor Lesley McAra from the University of Edinburgh and Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland's Children's Commissioner delivered keynote addresses followed by an expert panel debate with representatives from Youth Justice Agency, academia, PSNI and children’s rights NGO’s.

Paddy Mooney, Director of Include Youth said:

"While we acknowledge that the system has gone some way to improving how we deal with children and young people, we continue to see looked after children over represented in the youth justice system and remain concerned about the inappropriate use of custody, in particular for those with complex needs.

Today's discussion aims to revitalise and renew our shared commitment to putting children's best interests at the heart of our youth justice system, not just in principle but in demonstrable practice and concrete actions."

Speaking at the event, Dr Clare Dwyer from the School of Law QUB said:

“For many children and young people growing up in Northern Ireland, paramilitaries continue to have a negative impact on their lives. This is a child protection issue which needs appropriate action. Young people still do not have confidence in the police and many feel that paramilitaries are given impunity.”

Pictured L-R: Declan McGeown, YJA; Dr Clare Dwyer, QUB; Chris Noble, PSNI; Paddy Kelly, Children’s Law Centre; Dr Paula Rodgers, Include Youth; Michelle Janes, Barnardos

View photos here or check out #YJNI on Twitter for more information.