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Dimanche 19 Janvier 2020

Salle de Presse

Children in conflict with the law: Juvenile justice system in Bangladesh

Wednesday 4th of December 2019 | Asie, Bangladesh
New Age
Nouvelle

ON OCTOBER 31, 2019 the High Court ordered to release all the children under the age of 12 from Gazipur and Jessore Children Development Centre who were tried in mobile courts. Simultaneously, the court also granted bail for six months to all those imprisoned by the order of courts other than designated children court. The order came following a report in a national Bengali daily on the same day. According to the report, mobile courts have illegally jailed 121 children to six months to one year and they have been kept in the CDCs in Tongi and Jessore. One child in Jessore facility was serving his time for child-marriage after being sentenced from a mobile court. In compliance with the court order, on November 25, 80 of the 121 children got their bail from child court and the rest were in the process.

Under the Children Act 2013, no court other than a juvenile court can try a child. In this regard, Rapid Action Battalion’s mobile court ruling would be considered as illegal. Therefore, the legal actions against 121 children raises serious question about the knowledge and regard for the Act among the law enforcement agencies. Their disregard called for a renewed attention to the juvenile justice system.

Children court and ‘development’ centres
With the enactment of Children Act 1974 and the Children Rules 1976, a legal system was institute to cater the youth and children in conflict or contact with law.  In 1976, the Children Act was enforced in Dhaka; later in 1980 it was enforced in other districts. The first juvenile court was established in Tongi, Gazipur in 1978 with a correctional facility for boys. At the time, there were no juvenile courts in the remaining districts. 

In 1990, when Bangladesh became a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, many international non-governmental organisations, as well as local human rights organisations started asking the government to amend the existing law to comply with the global best practice on child rights protection, if nothing else at least to establish Children Court and correctional facilities in other districts. Eventually, two other juvenile facilities were established at Phulerhat, Jessore in 1995 for male child and another at Konabari, Gazipur in 2003 for girl child.

According to the Gazette Notification dated June 23, 1999, the juvenile court of Tongi covers Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet divisions while the juvenile court of Jessore covers Khulna, Rajshahi and Barisal divisions. The Konabari juvenile court for girl child is covering all the seven divisions of Bangladesh. Later in 2013, the existing law was repealed with the Children Act 2013 — a move that was considered a departure from punitive approach to juvenile delinquency.

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