NEW DELHI, India, 07 August 2014 - With the enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act in 2000, India’s juvenile justice legislations was brought in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and international standards, focussing on some of the key principles of juvenile justice: deprivation of liberty as last resort, restorative and reformative justice, diversion and alternative sentencing, and separate protection structures and qualified personnel.
The recent Union Cabinet approval of the Juvenile Justice Act amendment to empower the Juvenile Justice Board to decide whether a juvenile above the age of 16 years involved in a heinous crime is to be tried in a regular court, constitutes a real step back.
The UN CRC (article 40.1) states that children who are accused of offences should be tried separately from adults “in a manner consistent with the child’s sense of dignity and worth”. This is further supported through international standards like the Beijing Rules and the Riyadh Guidelines laying out procedures for the administration of juvenile justice and prevention of juvenile delinquency.
UNICEF urges the debate on the JJ Act amendment to be informed by widely available research findings and evidence: “Worldwide, evidence shows that the process of judicial waiver or transfer of juvenile cases to adult courts have not resulted in reduction of crime or recidivism. Instead, investments in a working system of treatment and rehabilitation of children have shown to lead to better results in reducing recidivism”, says Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF Country Representative.
He confirmed continued commitment to support the Government of India in strengthening the system, and advocates for reformative measures for all juveniles up to 18 years, irrespective of the nature of their offence, with an explicitly mentioned maximum period of sentencing, guaranteed with periodic reviews and revision of orders.
“We also look forward to continue work with the Government of India and other partners to strengthen prevention through stronger child protection systems.”
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For further information, please contact:
Caroline Den Dulk, Chief Advocacy and Partnerships, UNICEF India.
Tel: +91-98-18106093; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonia Sarkar, Communication Sarkar, UNICEF India
Tel: +91-98-10170289; e-mail: email@example.com