The Child Jus­tice Bench to be op­er­a­tional

Bhutan Times - - Home - Rinzin Lhamo

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.

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