Thursday July 25, 2024

Govt urged to provide free legal services to children

By Our Correspondent
September 17, 2022

LAHORE:The children should not be housed in police stations and ordinary prisons, instead, they should be housed in observation homes and rehabilitation centres not more than 14 days under the law during the investigation period. This was stated by officials of Legal Awareness Watch (LAW) Pakistan and Juvenile Justice Committee of Lahore Bar Association during a media briefing on Friday.

The members of the civil society, child rights defenders, and media personnel attended the press conference. While addressing the media personnel, Director LAW Sarmad Ali Advocate said neither at federal nor provincial level any measures had been taken to ensure non-disclosure of the identity of the children who come in conflict with the law. According to section 6 of JJSA 2018, no child in custody of police should be handcuffed while moving from one place to another. The Act 2018 demanded the identity of the children who come in violation of the penal law to be protected at all levels. Even the media reporters, police and courts had to follow this stipulation, added Sarmad.

He said the provincial governments despite the lapse of four years had not made juvenile justice committees functional for resolving minor and major nature of offences under section 10 of the Act 2018, he added.

He further said that the provincial governments under the Act 2018 should establish funds for providing free legal services to children brought to justice system; discoursed Sarmad. The age determination procedure in Pakistan should also be done through scientific method in case no documentary evidence is available. It would be the best and logical way to determine the actual age of the person apprehended by the police to fulfill the purpose of the Act 2018 in its letter and spirit.

He said that the probation officers should be provided necessary skills to handle cases of children particularly involving serious acts. The communication between the law-enforcing agencies i.e., police, probation officers and prosecution as demanded under Act 2018 should be positive to safeguard the best interests of the children who come in conflict with the penal law, he added. In the end, LAW and members of Juvenile Justice Committee of LBA demanded that children brought to justice system in any violation of the law should never be stigmatised.

Symposium: Symposium on “Effective standards of ethics in government and civil service” was organised by the School of Governance and Society, University of Management and Technology.

Justice Retired Sheikh Ahmed Farooq, Ms Arifa Sabuhi, former secretary to the government of Pakistan, Prof Rahat Al Ain, Dr Raghib Naimi, Khurram Khan, former JDG IB and Azhar Rasheed Khan, PSP, Director General National Prisons Academy, participated and expressed their views. Dr. Naveed Elahi moderated the roundtable and highlighted the importance of the topic. The participants lamented that gradually the moral degradation in the society and civil service is becoming noticeable. However, the participants gave useful suggestions that could lead to improvement. For example, create effective laws that require public servants to explain the reasons for their official decisions (eg: Freedom of Information Act). A “whistleblower” protection law should be enacted to protect appropriate “public interest disclosures”. Merit-based promotion, placement and recruitment, anti-discrimination system should be devised. Training and development in the content and reasoning of codes of ethics, the application of principles of ethical management, proper use of official power, and training in the requirements of professional responsibility.