Govt urged to implement Juvenile Justice System Act

PESHAWAR:  The civil society Tuesday called upon the federal and provincial governments for implementation of the Juvenile Justice System Act (JJSA) 2018 in connection with the universal children’s day.

Addressing a press conference here Project Coordinator of Group Development Pakistan, Imran Takkar said, “While marking the 30th anniversary of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) we need to advocate promote and celebrate children’s rights, and demand actions as per the national and international commitment made by the state.”

The government should implement the JJSA properly as even the previous law was not fully implemented by the respective governments keeping in view best interest of the child under the UNCRC signed and ratified by Pakistan, Takkar said. He said JJSA 2018 was enacted in May 2018 and published in the official gazette on May 24, 2018. Through this law curtains were drawn on the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO), 2000, which was promulgated almost 2 decades ago.

Several changes were made in the new law. However, so far the federal as well as the provincial governments have not taken any step to implement some of the important provisions related to setting up of juvenile rehabilitation centers, observation homes and juvenile justice committees. The law defines a juvenile as a child who may be dealt with for an offence in a manner which is different from an adult. A child means a person who has not attained the age of 18 years. 

Contrary to the previous law, the present law has also focused on restorative justice and provides for diversion in cases of juvenile offenders. Under the law, diversion means: “An alternative process of determining the responsibility and treatment of a juvenile on the basis of his social, cultural, economic, psychological and educational background without resorting to formal judicial proceedings.”

He said Section 9 of JJSA provides that with the consent of a juvenile or his guardian, as the case may be, the complaint against the juvenile shall be referred to the Juvenile Justice Committee for disposal of the same through diversion when a juvenile is accused of a minor offence or where a juvenile is charged in a major offence and his or her age is below 16 years of age. The law also provides for setting up juvenile rehabilitation center, which means a place where a juvenile may be kept and given education, vocational or technical training for his mental, moral and psychological development and includes certified institutions, juvenile training institutions, borstal institutions, vocational centers, Darul Aman, women crisis centers, established by the government or by voluntary organizations.

Similarly, the Act also makes it binding on government to establish observation homes where a juvenile is kept temporarily after being apprehended by police as well as after obtaining remand from juvenile court for conducting inquiry. The Act also lays emphasis on confidentiality of a juvenile offender and under section 13 whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known identity of a juvenile shall be punished with imprisonment of up to three years and fine. However, this provision does not extend to any printing or publishing if that is by or under the order in writing of in-charge of a police station in good faith or by or with the authorization in writing of the juvenile or his next of kin.—APP

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