Under the 2018 Act and UN Convention, the government has to establish funds for free legal service to the children brought to justice system
From Our Correspondent
The Juvenile Justice System Act was promulgated in May 2018 in Pakistan but despite lapse of such a long time no practical steps have been taken by the governments at federal and provincial level to implement the law to fulfill the responsibilities under United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children.
This emerged during a briefing on Juvenile Justice System Act organized by Marvi Rural Development Organization (MRDO) on Thursday. The media persons and the members of civil society, and child rights participated in the briefing.
Saira Ahmed of MRDO in her briefing said that the provincial governments under the Act 2018 had to establish funds for providing free legal services to children brought to the justice system.
“Moreover, the UN Convention envisages separate criminal justice for children who are said to have infringed any penal law offering a scheme of rehabilitation to give them a second chance to become responsible individuals,” she said.
Children should not be housed in police stations or in ordinary prisons
Saira Ahmed said that children across Pakistan should not be housed in police stations as well as in ordinary prisons regulated under Pakistan Prison Rules 1978 and instead, they be housed in observation homes during the investigation period for not more than 14-day and rehabilitation centers under the law to restore to normal life as it was before the incidence of breach of social harmony.
No step to ensure non-disclosure of the identity of the children
She added that neither at federal nor provincial levels any measures had been taken to ensure non-disclosure of the identity of the children who come in conflict with the law. “The Act 2018 demanded the identity of the children who come in violation of the penal law to be protected at all levels and even the media reporters, police, and courts had to follow this stipulation.”
No rules notified so far
Furthermore, the government at provincial levels with no further delay should notify rules of business under section 24 of the Act 2018, added Saira.
The provincial governments despite the lapsed four years had not made juvenile justice committees functional for resolving minor and major nature of offences under section 10 of the Act 2018, Saira said.
Having functional juvenile justice committees across Pakistan would release the burden of pendency of case upon courts and allow restorative justice to flourish in the country, added senior media correspondent.
In addition, the provincial governments under the Act 2018 have to establish funds for providing free legal services to children brought to the justice system, Saira said.
Advocate Bashir Ahmed Bhand said that age determination procedure in Pakistan should be done through scientific method in case no documentary evidence i.e., ossification test to determine the actual age of the person apprehended by the police to fulfill the purpose of the of the Act 2018 in its letter and spirit.
No training of Probation Officers
Moreover, it was told to the audience that the probation officers in Pakistan should be provided necessary skills to handle cases of children particularly involving serious acts.
The communication between the law enforcing agencies i.e., police, probation officers and prosecution as demanded under Act 2018 to be promoted positively and considered proactively by stakeholders to safeguard the best interests of the children who come in conflict with the penal law.
Even a dangerous child is a victim
In the end MRDO demanded that children brought to justice in any violation of the law should never be stigmatized nor treated as desperate or hardened even if they committed a serious violation of law to the reason that “even a dangerous child is a victim.”