PESHAWAR/SWAT: Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan on Friday virtually inaugurated four more child protection courts in divisional headquarters of the province with an aim to provide justice to children in a friendly and secure environment.
The inauguration ceremony was held simultaneously in Peshawar, Kohat, Swat, Bannu and DI Khan, according to a statement issued here. The development took the number of such courts in the province to eight, the highest in the country.
Currently, the child courts are functioning in Peshawar, Mardan, Abbottabad and Mohmand.
The ceremony on the high court’s premises in Peshawar was attended by judges, advocate general, chief secretary, provincial police chief, home secretary, law and social welfare secretaries, the high court’s principal officers and other relevant officials.
According to the statement, all child courts of the province are equipped with digital equipment and have separate rooms for ‘children in contact and in conflict with law’ with all basic facilities.
“Child protection courts have been established in the province not only to ensure protection of children from maltreatment, violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect but also to provide speedy, effective and inexpensive justice to the children according to the mandate set by the United Nation Convention on Rights of Children.”
High court CJ says initiative to strengthen juvenile justice system
Speaking on the occasion, the chief justice highlighted the need for and importance of the exclusive child courts in the justice system and said the children under 14 years of age formed almost 33 per cent of the population and therefore, it would be unjust and unfortunate to ignore their welfare.
He said the Peshawar High Court embarked on a plan in 2019 to establish a chain of child courts throughout the province starting from Peshawar and extending first to the divisional headquarters and then to every district of the province.
“This is a big stride forward in juvenile justice system unmatched by any other province,” he said.
The CJ appreciated the commendable performance of the existing four child courts and said those courts while considering the statutory provision of law had disposed of the cases of children expeditiously and the average active time of the case of a juvenile was 123 days in line with the independent evaluation.
According to the statement, the juvenile justice committees are functional and the new concept of diversion introduced in the JJSA 2018 had been availed by 56 children and 98 per cent of them were boys.
“Adopting the procedure of diversion not only saved the children from the rigours of trial but also helped reform and rehabilitate children without involvement of any risk. With the establishment of child courts, the international obligation under the UNCRC was fulfilled. Such courts will be established in all districts soon with the assistance of the provincial government to ensure child justice at all levels,” it added.
According to the statement, the environment of child courts will provide an opportunity to the children to record version or evidence in cases before the court without any eye contact with the accused and even the facility of video link is available in all child courts.
Meanwhile, the Swat child court’s inauguration ceremony was held on the premises of the district courts in Saidu Sharif.
Commissioner of Malakand division Zaheerul Islam, DIG of police Abdul Ghafoor Afridi, additional registrar of the Peshawar High Court Mumrez Khan Khalil, district and sessions judge Shoaib Khan, other judges and lawyers attended the event.
District and sessions judge Shoaib Khan declared the establishment of the child court a historic development.
He said there were 29 juvenile cases in Swat district and the establishment of a special court to handle them would provide a friendly environment to the children on the court premises and make it easier for them to record statements via video link.
Child court judge Sadia Andaleeb said the court would handle all issues related to children. “The parents should come here if they have any issue related to their children. They will get justice in a safe and pleasant environment,” she said.
The judge urged people to give children proper time to prevent their abuse in society.
Later, the guests visited the child court and appreciated its facilities.
Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2021