LAHORE: The Legal Awareness Watch (LAW) on Tuesday urged swift implementation of Juvenile Justice Act 2018 for child offenders and stressed the need for rehabilitation centres and non-disclosure of juvenile identities.

The Juvenile Justice Act 2018, which was promulgated following the Universal Periodic Review on Pakistan in 2017, replaced the 2000 ordinance, aiming to provide a more robust system for children accused of violating penal provisions.

Advocates from various walks of life and media personnel have joined LAW’s plea, saying that children across Pakistan should not be detained in police stations or ordinary prisons as per the Pakistan Prison Rules of 1978. Instead, they should be placed in observation homes during the investigation period and subsequently in rehabilitation centres to reintegrate them into normal life.

The LAW director said the respective authorities with no further delay should notify rules of business under section 24 of the Act 2018 for implementing it in its letter and spirit and due to this failure juvenile justice committees across Pakistan have not been made functional for resolving minor and major nature penal violations under section 10.

Having the juvenile justice committees across Pakistan made function, would discharge the courts from the burden of pendency of cases and allowing restorative justice to flourish in the country through diversion from the ordinary penal sanctions, he added.

No attempt [to date] has been made at the federal or provincial levels 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 even the media reporters, police, and courts had to follow this stipulation of the law, he added.

The LAW had demanded that children brought to justice in any violation of the law should never be stigmatised nor treated as desperate or hardened even if it committed a serious violation of law for the reason that “even a dangerous child is a victim.”

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2023

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