By: Adeel Alvi
SHIKARPURr: Marvi Rural Development Organization-MRDO with collaboration of Legal Awareness Watch (LAW) held a forum on the implementation of juvenile justice System Act 2018 in District Shikarpur wherein relevant stakeholders participated to share their views and experiences pertaining to juvenile justice system across Pakistan to ensure its effective implementation. The Deputy Commissioner Shikarpur Ghulam Nabi Khoro chaired the session.
Within the forum the panellists included Barrister Sarmad Ali Director LAW, Din Mohammad Sheikh, Abdul Haleem from Probation Department, Advocate Aqeel Somroo, Advocate Shahida Memon and Saira Ahmed participated.
Mr. Sarmad Ali Advocate and executive director LAW enunciated that “Juvenile Justice System demands due rights to be given and ensured to all juveniles who comes in conflict with law-starting from the time of arrest until the completion of trial. The problem within Pakistan is that there is no direct and complete procedure available for age determination of arrested person. The age determination has to be done at the earliest stage such as during physical remand proceedings by the police investigation officer. The police officers/investigation officers intentionally or unintentionally do not treat an arrested person as juvenile if that appears to be juvenile in order to avoid their duties rising under the JJSA 2018. Awarding life imprisonment to juveniles is also against the Article 25 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, which iterates an obligation to safeguard and protect the rights of children.
Further he said, 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.
Shahida Memon was on the view that, the JJSA 2018 provides that the arrested juvenile shall be kept in an observation home and the officer-in-charge of the police station shall, as soon as possible, inform the guardian of the juvenile, if he can be found. The law makes it binding on the police to determine the age at the initial stage. etc. are some of the modes defined under diversion mechanism. But this is even not being implemented in true letter and spirit.
Saira Ahmed said, JJSA explains that no juvenile shall be punished to death, be ordered to labor, put fetters, handcuffed or given any corporal punishment at any time while in custody. But on ground things are different.
The panellists were of the view that the practice of the death penalty and life imprisonment should be abolished for juveniles allegedly and/or convicted of heinous offences including terrorism. Moreover, the investigation of criminal cases should be made fair and transparent in accordance with Criminal Code of Procedure so to make sure that the juveniles without any shadow of doubt are declared as juveniles, if any material evidence on age of arrested person discloses him less 18-year of age.
By: Adeel Alvi