HRCP urges govt to take UN body’s advice on juvenile justice

Press Release, Lahore, June 13: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday urged the government to keep in mind the recent recommendations on juvenile justice by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child while reviewing the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO).  

The HRCP letter was addressed to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights, the Law and Justice Commission, and the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development.

The Committee adopted a General Comment on juvenile justice, to help States parties develop and implement a comprehensive juvenile justice policy and prevent and address juvenile delinquency, in line with States parties’ obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Pakistan is a signatory to the CRC and in July 2000 introduced the JJSO, which focuses on the child in the criminal justice process. The JJSO provisions largely remain unimplemented in Pakistan. HRCP has previously highlighted areas in the JJSO that require improvement, including better implementation.

HRCP asked the government to make the best interest of the child the primary consideration in all decisions taken within the context of the administration of juvenile justice.

It invited the government to consider in particular the measures highlighted in the new General Comment for dealing with children accused of infringing the penal law, the minimum age of criminal responsibility, guarantees for a fair trail, alternatives to court convictions for children, and various facets of deprivation of children’s liberty, including pre-trial detention and post-trial incarceration.  

HRCP said that in line with the UN Committee’s observation, the government should seek to deal with children accused of infringing the penal law without resorting to judicial proceedings. It said that even when judicial proceedings are initiated against children as a measure of last resort, all components of the principle of fair trial must be applied. HRCP emphasized that the child, like all accused, has the right to be treated in accordance with the presumption of innocence and is only guilty if the charges against him are proved beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.