The Child Justice Bench to be operational
The Child Justice Bench in Thimphu will be operational from the beginning of this year which will deal with children who come in contact with law.
This is among one of the institute initiated by Save the Children to help child in contact with law (CICL).
The child above the age of 12 and below the age of 18 doing anything against the law shall be treated as CICL.
Tashi Delek, from Save the Children, said that there is a need of a child welfare officer, who will be an institutional social worker appointed by the government. Adding that, a probation officer is required to provide advice to the child and accompany them in the court.
Other institutions like child welfare committee and various homes for CICL will also be established.
The after care home will accommodate child without parents after they are released from the detention center till they can stand on their own feet.
For now, Youth Reha- bilitation Center in Tshimasham, Chukha is the only special home that has been functioning for longer period of time.
One of the alternatives for dealing with CICL is expected to be diversion rather than judicial proceeding and the child will also be provided with opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration.
CICL conviction record shall also be protected against legal consequences and social stigma.
Namgay Dorji, Sr. Attorney from the Office of the Attorney General said, “Taking child to the court should be the last resort”.
Tenzin, Assistant Judge of Bhutan National Legal Institute said, “We have diversification instead of detaining, we have centers and homes rather than jail and we educate and rehab rather than punishing”.
He also said that around 1,000 local leaders have been trained in the institute which has helped to solve many cases through meditation.
Save the Children follows Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA), 2011 to provide rights to the children.
The CCPA gets their authority from Article 9(18) of the constitution of Bhutan which states that, the State shall endeavor to take appropriate measures to ensure that children are protected against all forms of discrimination and exploitation including trafficking, prostitution, abuse, violence, degrading treatment and economic exploitation.
The main purpose of the act is to provide care, protection, guidance, counseling, treatment, rehabilitation, adjudication and disposition of matters.
Another core objective of the act is to create a uniform child justice system and legal framework with special attention to prevention and treatment of CICL.
According to the act any person below the age of 18 is considered as child and 12 years is the minimum age of criminal liability.
A child below 12 years found to have done something against the law will be handed over to the parents or guardians.
Tashi Delek said, “In case of damage, the parents or guardian would be required to compensate”.
Convention on the Rights of the Child was first adopted in 1989 and was ratified by Bhutan on 23 May 1990. It shows the basic human right to which children are entitled namely the right to survival, the right to development, the right to protection and the right to participation.
It also sets minimum standards to governments in providing health care, education, legal and social services to children.