Juvenile justice system has failed in Pakistan: moot told

December 23, 2013 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: The Sindh Judicial Academy and the Society of the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) held a consultation with the judiciary of Sindh to look at the slow progress on the implementation of Juveniles Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) 2000 and hurdles in its way at a local hotel on Sunday night.

Program was presided over by Justice Sarwar Korai of Sindh High Court while District & Session Judges Safdar Hussain, Imdad Hussain Khoso, Ghulam Rasool, Abdul Razzaq, Munir Ahmed, Ubaidullah Khan, Amjad Ali Bohi, Prosecutor Abdul Maroof, advocate supreme court Anees Jillani, civil judges and judicial magistrates participated in the consultation.

Speaking at Provincial Program Manager, Ms Nazra Jahan said, Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) was promulgated in Pakistan in 2000. By 2002, all provincial governments and Islamabad Capital Territory had notified rules for the implementation JJSO. After the lapse of 12 years, the concept of juvenile justice system has failed to get currency in Pakistan.

She added that juvenile justice system is about fair handling and treatment of juvenile offenders. “It is a philosophy that recognizes the right of the young people to due protection when they are in trouble and personal protection when it is needed.”

First of all, like overall criminal justice system, juvenile justice system procedures are carried out as a way to achieve justice for all juveniles. Secondly, the juvenile justice system is composed of institutions that have been organized to manage established procedures which embody the fundamental principles like freedom from torture, deprivation of liberty as a last resort, diversion, restorative justice and rehabilitation.

Justice ( R) Ali Sain Dino started the conference by raising the issue of whether criminals are born such way or the circumstances around force them to go astray. The speaker emphasised on the role played by the society of turning a child into a criminal.

He said that the society created circumstances which left no choice for the young to choose the wrong path. Justice Deno also stressed on building better rehabilitation centres where the young offenders can be kept separately from adult criminals.

He added that punishment and detention should only be used as the last resort. Stating the minimum effect punishment has on people, he said it was the failure of the society as a whole that it could not come up with an alternate for punishment — let alone capital punishment.

He urged the judges and lawyers present in the conference to refrain from giving severe punishments. Justice said that the punishment should be slightly above the pleasure of the crime conducted. He ended on the note that law should serve individuals and not just the state.

Registrar Sindh High Court Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui stressed on methods that could be used to completely bypass the detention presence. He discussed the loopholes of the Ordinance talked in detail about the clauses usually overlooked by the authorities. “There is a lack of detention centers and YOIS,” he said.

He expressed great concern for the treatment young offenders received during their detention period and their trial and further he suggested that the government should work on keeping young offenders as far as possible from criminals as it increases their chances of leading a normal after they have served their sentence.

DIG Police Abdul Khaliq Shaikh shed light over the normal procedure followed by the police while handling minor criminals. He underscored that the lack of funds is the major cause why the police hasn’t been able to comply with the court’s orders.

He said that the juvenile offenders are usually made to travel in police vans, which according to the JJSO is prohibited. However, the lack of funds restricts them. He added that the police are also forced to produce the young offenders before the court along with the adult criminals as there are no separate courts made for juvenile offenders.

He suggested that other means like using electronic tags to keep track of the movement of the minor offender can be used to control crime. Participants judges questioned the panellists on why the protocols set by the Ordinance were not followed in most of the cases. They also stressed on the need of having more and better remand centers where the young offenders can be reformed and can be lead normal lives after their release.