“Such step is in violation of National Policy for Child-2013”

Child right activists, lawyers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on Friday opposed the Union Government’s move to reduce the age of juvenile from 18 to 16.

They also called for effective implementation of existing Juvenile Justices (Care and Protection of Children) Act.

Speaking at the programme organised by the Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation here, Satish Kumar, Regional Representative, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) said the age of juvenile should not be reduced.

In many countries harsher punishments to juveniles on par with adults was not effective, he said.

Stating that though his organisation was opposed to any gender related violence, he said, “There should be effective implementation of existing laws. But at the same time, we do not support the sudden change in the most progressive Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act which has been evolved after series of discussions.”

Opposing the proposed amendment in the Act, Sudha Ramalingam, advocate said the labelling of children in conflict with law, as offenders had to be addressed.

Stressing that the provisions of the existing Juvenile Justice Act should be implemented in an effective manner, she pointed out that Justice J.S. Verma Committee Report also spoke very clearly the necessity to have only 18 years as the age of juvenile.

Participating at the consultation, Bharti Ali, Co-Director of HAQ:Centre for Child Rights asked why the age of juvenile should be reduced. Such step is in violation of National Policy for Child-2013 which defined the age of child.

‘Not alarming’

Stating that as per statistics of National Crime Records Bureau last year, only 1,698 persons in age group of between 16 and 18, committed serious crimes, she said evidence on the ground does not support the view that the juvenile crime has assumed massive proportions.

The fear that the society is under threat from its children is grossly exaggerated.

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