Friday, August 29, 2014

Point to Ponder — CHILD RIGHT TO CRIME?

Point to Ponder

A workshop recently organized by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) discussed crucial aspects of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill recently introduced in Parlianen. It concentrated its particular attention on the provisions regarding the age of criminal responsibility and the core element of juvenile justice with emphasis on rehabilitation, reformation, reintegration and skill development. The participating NGOs strongly believed the "proposed bill violated the core principle of juvenile justice in the UN Convention on Child Rights and also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which have been ratified by India". ()Post a comment

The deliberations of the workshop have to be taken note of in the context of the prevailing crime and social situation in the country. The Bill proposes to reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years. India cannot afford to blindly follow the international charters and covenants disregarding the home truths and requirements to deal with the increasing number of  heinous crimes of rapes, gang-rapes and murders indulged in by juveniles. In some cases such crimes perpetrated by juveniles are more cruel and cold-blooded than those indulged in by adults.

There is force in the argument of a section of the people that the extent of punishment to an individual should be commensurate with the crime he committed and not diluted by the juvenile age of the criminal.

It is true that our laws, as far as possible, should conform to international standards set by the UN Charter and covenants. But the latter cannot be allowed to have an overriding veto.

Every country has its own set of laws and rules to deal with the peculiar social, economic and legal conditions to suit its requirements of the situation and times. What is true in the countries like the USA, UK, France, Germany, China or Russia is not — and cannot be — identical in every aspect in India and other countries.

Even in the matter of human rights, there cannot be uniformity. Contradictions and divergence in this field are definitely there in almost every matter in every country. Forget about the world, even the five permanent members of the Security Council do not have exactly the same human rights laws and standards.

No country in the world can outsource its sovereignty to frame laws to any international organization, be it the UN general assembly, the Security Council or the UN Human Rights Commission. Neither can it make its laws subservient to international diktats. Nor can the laws of any country be set aside only because these come in conflict with or infringe the provisions of any international law and organization.

The organizations like NHRC are coming out with strange arguments. Is there anything like children's right to crime like rape and murder?

In fact, it is this permissive and liberal attitude that is the root cause of increasing number of heinous crimes in which juveniles are discovered to be involved. It does not, in any way, dissuade them from committing the crime they do in the country. On the contrary it is encouraging and motivating them to indulge in criminal activity making them sanguine to their rights and generating hope that they will get away with light punishment from the one they otherwise deserve.                                                                                 ***