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Civil society condemns death of boy in Peshawar Police custody

By Myra Imran
March 16, 2021

Islamabad: Civil society on Monday urged the government to adopt child rights-based approach, and a preventive attitude for rule of law and the enforcement of child rights in line with constitution and international obligations.

This was stated in a press statement titled ‘Never Again’ issued and endorsed by civil society organizations and child rights activists. The statement was issues in response to the death of a 14 years-old child accused in a police station in Peshawar.

The statement says that the news has left the country shocked and angry. It says that such tragedy is unacceptable and preventable. “We cannot wait for another tragedy to happen, to act. We do not have the luxury of time anymore: children’s lives are at stake,” it states.

The statement acknowledges the government’s efforts to improve child justice and ensure that the best interest of the child would be guaranteed at each stage of the justice process. To date, 9 pilot child courts have been established with four more to be launched soon in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Additionally, GBV courts have been put in place in all districts of the country. From December 2017 to November 2020, 1921 children have accessed child and gender-sensitive justice services. Around 360 justice actors were trained on child rights, child protection, gender equality and child justice. The average conviction rate of those special courts is about 6-7 per cent (higher than the national average of 2-3 per cent) and interviewed beneficiaries have largely expressed strong satisfaction and an increased level of trust towards the state institutions in charge of dispensing justice services.

It says that those historical milestones have been acknowledged by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, but the death of a 14 years-old in police custody reminds us of a crucial reality that this is not enough.

It reminds the government that the Juvenile Justice System Act (JJSA) 2018 puts the emphasis on reformative justice and the obligation of state actors to follow a specific procedure to avoid secondary victimization. “It obligates state that the arrested juvenile shall be kept in an observation home and the officer-in-charge of the police station shall, as soon as possible.”

The law also asks for informing guardian of the juvenile, if he can be found, of such arrest and inform him of the time, date and name of the Juvenile court before which the juvenile shall be produced besides informing the concerned probation officer to enable him to obtain such information about the juvenile and other material circumstances which may be of assistance to the Juvenile Court for making inquiry.