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Juveniles in conflict zones denied justice

New Delhi, March 23, 2013, DHNS: 2:21 IST
The juvenile justice system in conflict-afflicted districts of the country is in a state of neglect as a majority of such regions do not have observation or special homes to rehabilitate juveniles, says a report by Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR).

According to report, 197 districts have been officially notified as affected by internal armed conflicts.

Out of which 91 districts have been notified as “disturbed” under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and 106 districts declared as affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) where juvenile justice does not exist.

In these strife-torn districts, the juveniles taken into custody are kept in the police lock up or camps of the Army and paramilitary forces and face gross human rights violation, the ACHR report states.

“Children, irrespective of their age, are treated as adults and subjected to gross human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extrajudicial executions and sexual assault, as part of the counter-insurgency operations,” the report states.

Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir are among the 91 districts which have been notified as “disturbed” while Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal fall into category of LWE.

“The report highlights 15 cases of arbitrary detention and torture and six cases of detention under the Public Safety Act of Jammu and Kashmir, 15 cases of extrajudicial executions and five cases of sexual assault such as rape by the security forces,” said ACHR director Suhas Chakma.

“In a number of cases of these blatant violations, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has already awarded compensation and its orders establish the truth beyond any reasonable doubt,” he said.

The report states that in 151 districts across 16 states — 76.64 per cent of the total conflict-afflicted districts lack observation and special homes.

“This implies that juveniles, who are taken into custody, are kept in police lock up and camps of the Army and paramilitary forces in clear violation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said the report.

Jammu and Kashmir which has only two observation homes is the worst, followed by Manipur which has only one observation-cum-special home. In many districts, even the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) exists only on paper.
“The Manipur government had submitted false information to the ministry of women and child development that nine JJBs were operating in the state while only one JJB was functioning,” the reports states.

“As the state government failed to establish the JJBs, the Project Approval Board (PAB) in a meeting under Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) decided not to sanction further grants for the nine JJBs for the financial year 2012-2013 until a report on their functioning with complete details was submitted,” the report adds.

As per the report, in Jharkhand, there were over 3,500 cases pending before the various JJBs till July last year.

“In Assam, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act the JJBs revealed that not a single review of the pendency of cases before them has been conducted in majority of the ‘disturbed’ districts,” the report states.

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