The policy-level steering committee, established to oversee the steps needed to implement the recently ratified Child Rights Protection Act and Juvenile Justice Act, held its first meeting on Thursday.
During the virtual meeting, relevant authorities shared the progress made on the necessary efforts in implementing the Acts, listed by the working group formulated on August 9.
Discussions revolved around the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach, prioritising the steps to be taken, and identifying the resources to be allocated for this matter.
Participants discussed how to proceed with the pending tasks of the working group as well.
The meeting was attended by Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath, Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services Aishath Mohamed Didi, Supreme Court Judge Aisha Shujoon Mohamed, Judicial Service Commission (JSC)'s President Hisaan Hussain, Prosecutor General (PG) Hussain Shameem, CEO of Local Government Authority (LGA) Fathimath Afshan Latheef and Children's Ombudsperson Niumaath Shafeeq.
In addition, senior officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services took part in the meeting.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified both the Child Rights Protection Act and the Juvenile Justice Act on November 20, 2019 on the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Child Rights Protection Act came into effect on February 20, and the Juvenile Justice Act is slated to come into effect later in November.
The amended Child Rights Protection Act outlines the rights and responsibilities for children, and duties of the state, community and parents to protect these rights. The Act also seeks to reduce disparities between the previous law and international child protection laws and standards.
Additionally, the reconstituted Act includes amendments which protect children from discrimination, bias, harm, cruel punishment, neglect, and physical and emotional abuse, and raised the legal age of consent for marriage to 18 years, while protecting children below the age of 15 against all regular judicial punishments.
Provisions such as the right to education, right to health care, and special provisions to protect the rights of children with special needs are included as well.
The ratified Juvenile Justice Act outlines the rights of children and adolescents who conflict with the law or get immersed in violence, juvenile delinquency, and means to prevent juvenile delinquencies. The bill also prescribes a swift resolution to allow reforming juvenile delinquents into productive members of society through rehabilitative facilities.
The Act directs the constitution of a Department of Juvenile Justice, a specialised police department to address juvenile delinquencies, designated State Prosecutors for children, a particular unit of probation and correctional officers, a juvenile diversion programme, rehabilitation programmes, and residential facilities and correctional centres.