‘Child rights crying for protection by police, judges’

November 16th, 2008 - 12:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) There is an urgent need to sensitise the police, the judicial system and the bureaucracy to respect child rights in the country, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member P.C. Sharma has said.His suggestion came in connection with a notice issued to Delhi Police by the Delhi Commission for Child Rights in October after it was reported that four juveniles were “picked up” by the cops for interrogation in the Jamia Nagar area after the Sep 19 shootout and were held for hours.

“The Juvenile Justice Act clearly states that no child can be held for interrogation. If required, a complaint can be lodged with a member of the Juvenile Justice Board and the minor taken into custodial care. Police officers should be sensitised about the Act because it is children we are dealing with,” Sharma, a former director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), told IANS in an interview here.

“One has to remember that while dealing with a child you have to look at him from the perspective of the juvenile justice system and not the criminal justice system,” he added.

Calling the Juvenile Justice Act a “benevolent” one, Sharma said that the very purpose of the act was being defeated because of poor implementation and inadequate facilities.

Giving an example, he said that the juvenile justice homes in the capital are in a pitiable state.

“I have personally visited juvenile justice homes in the capital and their condition is simply pitiable. The conditions are so unhygienic that almost 80 percent of the children living in them have some skin disease or the other.

“Ideally a juvenile, who faces allegations, should be tried within four months. However, there are so many children who have been languishing in these homes for years now. There are not enough courts. Some lose their childhood in this painfully long process,” Sharma said.

“The truth is that such issues are not a priority with the government, civil society or the media,” he added.

Awareness about the juvenile justice system amongst the police and in the entire justice system, Sharma said, was the way to make things better.

“We visit the JJ homes and send reports to the state to take action but then it depends on the state to take appropriate steps. Therefore, awareness and sensitisation of the stakeholders of the system are very important to make things better in the juvenile homes and for the children themselves,” he said.

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