HRCM calls for separation of juveniles from adults in detention facilities

(From L-R) President of HRCM, Aminath Enas and Vice President of HRCM, Mohamed Zahid. (File Photo)

Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has called on relevant state authorities to make the necessary arrangements to seperate juvenile detainees from adults at detention facilities.

The local human rights watchdog issued the appeal in its statement on occasion of International Day for Prevention of Child Abuse which is being observed this Tuesday.

According to HRCM, the most frequent form of child abuse reported to the commission is negligence by family, followed by physical and emotional abuse, and sexual abuse in the hands of both family and strangers.

HRCM called on the state for the immediate implementation measures to prevent child abuse and ensure children a safe environment, including easy access to necessary psychological support.

 “We call on relevant state authorities to arrange a system whereby the necessary psychological support is easily accessible to child abuse victims,” said HRCM, in its statement.

HRCM also expressed concern over the delay in investigation into child abuse cases, as well as loss of evidence, and various other challenges which obstruct child abuse victims from receiving justice.

“It is therefore necessary to review such cases where child abuse victims have been denied justice, find a way to remedy such issues, and implement quick measures so the victims receive justice,” said HRCM.

The commission also expressed concern over the continued practice of holding juvenile delinquents and adult criminals en masse at detention facilities, and the lack of effectiveness of the existing mechanism to remove juvenile delinquents from criminal environments and allow them to re-join the community following rehabilitation.

It hailed the Juvenile Justice Bill which was passed by the Parliament last week, which is designed to remedy the specific concerns voiced by HRCM, as well as affect a holistic overhaul of the juvenile justice system.

The legislature will make it mandatory for the state to establish a juvenile custodial center, juvenile correctional centers and juvenile residential centers within 18 months of its enactment.

Juvenile correctional centers branch out to two types of facilities – juvenile detention centers and long-term secure facilities.

Juvenile Detention Center: These centers must be reserved to accommodate juvenile delinquents served long-term convictions for non-violent crimes.

Long-term Secure Facility: These facilities must be reserved to accommodate juvenile delinquents served long-term convictions for violent crimes.

The legislature stipulates that the specialized facilities must be separate from adult correctional facilities, and must be appropriate based on age and nature of the crime committed by the juvenile delinquents it holds.

It also stipulates that juvenile delinquents must not be held at any of the specialized facilities unless as a last resort, after exhausting courses of action under juvenile diversion system – which is also written down in the legislature in detail.