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Old Monday, January 21, 2019
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Default Challenges to juvenile justice system in pakistan


Justice systems designed for adults often lack the capacity to adequately address the protection of the rights of juvenile offenders and are more likely to harm than improve a juvenile offenderís chances for reintegration into society. To resolve this problem, Juvenile Justice System was incorporated in criminal legal system of Pakistan in the year 2000. Unfortunately, this law was not a perfect piece of legislation for juvenile offenders and was ultimately declared annulled by the Lahore High Court. Juvenile offenders continue to be treated as hardened criminals thus deflecting the attention from rehabilitation to punishment.

The Juvenile Justice System (JIS) Act of 2018 is a new law, which has been enacted by the federal government earlier this year. The JJS Act of 2018 overcomes the shortcomings, which were present in the JJSO 2000 and provides a much better system of criminal justice and rehabilitation for juvenile offenders. The JJS Act of 2018 provides specialised procedures for arrest, investigation, bail, trial, detention and the rehabilitation of juvenile
offenders in order to protect them from maltreatment. But some of the key challenges in implementation of this Act are:

1. It is clearly mentioned in the JJS Act of 2018 that the government in consultation with the concerned high court shall by notification in the official Gazette establish or designate juvenile court for one or more sessions divisions within a period of three months from the commencement of this Act. But separate juvenile courts are still not established in every district of Pakistan, excluding a juvenile court at the Judicial Complex in Lahore that
was established to deal with cases involving children on December 19, 2017.

2. Not a single Juvenile Justice Committee has been established so far, whereas it is clearly written in the JJS Act of 2018 that the government in consultation with the concerned Sessions Judge shall establish the Committee for each sessions division no later than three months from the commencement of this Act. The committees shall dispose of the cases of juvenile offenders without resorting to formal judicial proceedings.

3. Juvenile offenders are maltreated and sexually abused in prisons, because of no proper monitoring of juvenile cells and not establishing separate jails for juveniles. The JJS Act of 2018 says that the government shall establish and maintain observation homes and juvenile rehabilitation centres for reception of juveniles, including separate centres for female juveniles. Not a single observation home and juvenile rehabilitation centre has been established or certified so far.

4. Although the law expressly prohibits corporal punishment and sentencing of juvenile offenders to death, 10% of the current death row population consists of juvenile offenders, according to a Justice Project Pakistanís report. Low birth registration rate, weak implementation of juvenile justice law and lack of age determination methods are primary reasons for several juveniles being sentenced to capital punishment and executed in the country.

5. The last challenge is the enactment of new rules of business for carrying out the purposes of JJS Act of 2018. Because the previously enacted rules are repealed after the promulgation of the JJS Act of 2018, so the federal
and provincial governments are required to make new rules in this regard. Complete implementation of law is further challenging predominantly due to inadequate infrastructure and resources.

The newly elected Prime Minister, Imran Khan, and President, Dr Arif Alavi, assured in their inaugural speeches that resolving the child protection issues and implementation of child rights and national action plan for children are one of their top priorities. Hence, the PTI government should take up the matter of implementation of the JJS Act of 2018 on a priority basis and must allocate a sufficient budget and resources for this cause.
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