Call to implement Juvenile Justice System Act-2018 – 07 Aug 2022

LAHORE : An awareness training workshop on Juvenile Justice System Act (JJSA) 2018 was organised by Legal Awareness Watch (LAW) in the provincial capital here on Saturday.

All stakeholders including members of civil society, officials of the child court and journalists participated in the awareness training workshop. They demanded from the government to implement Juvenile Justice System Act-2018 in its real spirit.

An advocate Sarmad Ali, Director LAW, said that according to the act, Juvenile courts will be established in the country and we are still waiting for the establishment of the Juvenile courts. He shared that if a child commits any crime, he should not be kept in police station, rather he would be shifted to rehabilitation centre. The child would not be called as criminal rather he would be called perpetrator. Police would not hand cuff him. He would not be tried under the courts where adult are tried, said Sarmad Ali.

On the occasion, representatives from Marvi Rural Development Organisation (MRDO) said that Pakistan is signatory of UNO the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC). “Pakistan is among the 12 countries in the world that might award death penalty or life imprisonment to minors. He shared that article 37 of the CRC asks state parties to ensure that “neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age”.

He further said awarding life imprisonment to juveniles is also against the Article 25 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, which iterates an obligation to safeguard and protect the rights of children.

He said the law proposed establishment of exclusive juvenile courts, observation homes and rehabilitation centres but nothing had been done so far in terms of implementation in Sindh and Punjab as well.

He further shared with participants the research study which MRDO and LAW had on prison conditions in Pakistan highlighted some glaring lapses of the law.

As per the report, juvenile prisoners are often kept with adults where children are exposed to abuse, violence and hardened criminals.

Sarmad Ali shared that at least 1,225 juveniles are being held in different prisons and waiting for justice. In 2018, Pakistan enacted the Juvenile Justice System Act 2018 (JJSA) and its predecessor the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) 2000 was thereby repealed. Juvenile Justice System Act 2018 states that a juvenile offender below 16 years of age is entitled to bail in heinous offences, but bail is the discretion of court if the juvenile is above sixteen years of age.

He further said that he believes that police knowingly violate protocols of due process. “Most of the time, the police get influenced by the complainant. Sometimes, in cases of crimes against the state, police investigation officers violate due course just to avoid all the defined legal procedure.

They intentionally try to avoid mentioning the age or declaring the offender as a juvenile on the Saza Slip”, he shares.

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