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No justice for juveniles

Nov 18, 2011

The recent report Juveniles of Jammu and Kashmir: Unequal before the law & denied justice in custody published by Asian Centre for Human Rights appeals that young adolescents should be arrested, detained and tried as juveniles and not as adults in conflict-ridden state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Juveniles of Jammu and Kashmir: Unequal before the law & denied justice in custody

Published by: Asian Centre for Human Rights

The report is based on the field investigation carried out by Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in Jammu and Kashmir from 15 May to 6 July 2010.

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The mass uprising last year between June to September 2010 has brought into focus a large number of arrests of the children who were in conflict with the law under the public safety act of Jammu and Kashmir.

The report spans seven districts of the state. These are Srinagar, Budgam, Shopian, Pulwama, Islamabad, Kulgam, Ganderbal and Jammu.

Out of the 51 cases of juvenile justice cited in this report, 9 cases relate to girls including two girls who are categorised as “in need of care”.

Children in conflict with the law in J&K do not get the benefit of the Central law i.e. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. Under the 1997 J&K Juvenile Justice Act, those who are over 16 years are not regarded as juveniles.

Key findings

-The State government of Jammu & Kashmir has been illegally detaining minors under the Public Safety Act (PSA) of 1978 that provides for upto two years of preventive detention. A large, yet unknown, number of children have been detained under the PSA.

- There is no Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committee in Jammu and Kashmir and minors are tried in normal courts, sometimes as adults, in contravention with India’s national laws and international obligations.

- There is no juvenile home for girls in Jammu and Kashmir in violation of 1997 J&K Juvenile Justice Act and all the girls taken into custody by the law enforcement personnel are placed in jails or police lock ups in the absence of a Juvenile Home for Girls.

- The juveniles detained in the R S Pura Juvenile Home in Jammu suffer from the lack of basic facilities such as drinking water, electricity, educational and recreational facilities.

 Recommendations

-Provide access to water, electricity, educational and recreational facilities to juveniles detained at the R S Pura Juvenile Home in Jammu.

- Immediately assign a “suitable government building” in Srinagar as the “Juvenile Girls Home” to house the juvenile girls and provide all the facilities as provided under the Juvenile Justice Act.

- Ensure that juveniles detained at the R S Pura Juvenile Home are provided expeditious trial and regularly produced before the Courts.

- Issue an order to ensure that henceforth all pending cases against juveniles including the 51 cases cited in this report shall be tried by the Juvenile Justice Boards to be established under the new Act and not under the normal courts presently being conducted.

- Repeal the 1997 J&K Juvenile Justice Act, and enact a new law in conformity with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Rules for the same Act must be adopted immediately.

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