PESHAWAR: Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court (PHC), Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan virtually inaugurated Child Protection Courts in divisional headquarters Kohat, Swat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan in pursuance to the vision for providing justice to children in a friendly and secure environment.
By the inauguration of Child Courts at divisional the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has now eight courts, the highest in the Country.
The ceremony was held simultaneously in Peshawar High Court and the said sub divisional headquarters. In the Peshawar High Court the ceremony was attended by the honorable Judges, Advocate General, Chief Secretary, Inspector General of Police, Home Secretary, Secretary Law, Secretary Social Welfare, Principal Officers of PHC along with other distinguished guests.
All the Child Courts established in the province are now equipped with all the digital paraphernalia. Separate rooms for children in contact with law and in conflict with law are provided where all the basic facilities are ensured. Child Protection courts have been established in the province not only to ensure protection of children from maltreatment, violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect but also to provide speedy, effective and inexpensive justice to the children according to the mandate set by the United Nation Convention on Rights of Children (UNCRC).
The Chief Justice while highlighting the need and importance of exclusive Child Courts in the justice system remarked, “Let me remind you that children under 14 years of age constitute almost 33% of our population. It would, therefore, be unjust and unfortunate to blink the welfare of such a large chunk of the populace.”
He further added that cognizant of its responsibility, the Peshawar High Court embarked upon a plan in 2019 to establish a chain of Child Courts throughout the Province, beginning with Peshawar, extending next, to the Divisional Headquarters and finally to each district of the Province. This, he affirmed, was a big stride forward in juvenile justice system unmatched by any other Province.
Referring to the remarkable performance of the existing Child Courts, the CJ stated it is heartening for me to share with you the commendable performance of the four Child Courts in the Province. These Courts while considering the statutory provision of law have disposed of the cases of children expeditiously and the average active time of case of a juvenile is 123 days as per the independent evaluation.
The juvenile justice committees are functional and the new concept of diversion introduced in JJSA 2018 has been availed by 56 children 98% of whom are male while 2% are female. Adopting the procedure of diversion not only saved the children from the rigors of trial but also help in reformation and rehabilitation of children without involvement of any risk. With the establishment of child courts International obligation under the UNCRC are fulfilled. Soon with the assistance of the Provincial Government such like courts will be established in all the districts to ensure child justice at all levels.
The environment in the Child Court will provide an opportunity to the Children to record their version / evidence before the Court without any eye contact with the accused or even remotely to video link, the facility of video link is provided in all the Child Courts. Peshawar High Court hopes that the Provincial Government will take concrete and practical steps on the establishment of observance centers and rehabilitation centers for children to fulfill the requirement of statute.