The government, on Sunday, submitted two bills regarding the protection of child rights to the parliament.
Specifically, the bills submitted were the Juvenile Justice bill as well as a bill seeking to reconstitute the Child Rights Protection Act.
According to a statement publicized by the President's Office, the government submitted the Child Rights Protection Act bill to Parliament due to disparities between the existing law and international child protection laws and standards.
The bill includes several rights and services that should be provided to all children under international child protection laws, citing that the rights and protective services provided to children cannot be provided beneficially for all children in the Maldives under the current law.
Amendments include additions to protect children from discrimination, bias, harm, cruel punishment, neglect and physical and emotional abuse.
Moreover, the bill carries privileges granted to children such as the right to education, safety and security and learning. Special needs children will also be granted rights for the betterment of their condition.
Upon approval from parliament and ratification, the Child Rights Protection Act will raise the legal age of consent for marriage to 18 years of age.
As per the bill, a council will be created by the name of 'Child and Family Protection Services' to protect children's rights and aid any child in need of protection. The council will act as an advisory body to relevant authorities and assist in creating laws and policies related to children's rights.
Additionally, the bill seeks to establish residential facilities across Maldives which can provide care to children in need.
The bill also protects all children below the age of 15 against all regular judicial punishments, including the death penalty, and prescribes a fast resolution to allow reforming juvenile delinquents into productive members of society through rehabilitative facilities.
The new rights granted by the Juvenile Justice bill also protects all children below the age of 15 from being penalized under criminal law.
The Juvenile Justice Bill was submitted to combat the urgent need for a judiciary system to protect the social and constitutional rights of children and describe the standards that must be met for those who are under the minimum age of social or criminal responsibility.
In addition to creating a Department of Juvenile Justice as a government body with its own mandate, the bill also requires the establishment of juvenile detention centres within 18 months of ratification.
The Juvenile Justice bill seeks to establish the juvenile justice system separate from the criminal justice system, with a set of officials specialized in the juvenile justice system, encompassing a Juvenile Court established at Male' City and corresponding regional divisions.