The National, Friday 14th of February, 2014
PARLIAMENT has passed legislation to address the special needs of children who come into conflict with the law.
The Juvenile Justice Act 2013 will repeal and replace the Juvenile Courts Act 1991and its related consequential amendments.
Justice and Attorney-General Kerenga Kua Minister told Parliament that the country did not have a comprehensive juvenile justice system.
“Parliament in 1991 passed the Juvenile Courts Act 1991 to address the special needs of children coming into conflict with the law,” he said.
“However, the Act has major challenges in the area of juvenile justice reforms including inadequate reflections of concepts and innovations such as diversion, restorative justice and statement of general principles.”
He said the National Law and Justice Sector policy approved by Cabinet in 2001 highlighted restorative justice as the foundation for PNG’s future law and justice programmes. Juvenile Justice was identified as a priority area for reform.
Kua said in 2007, Cabinet approved the introduction of the National Juvenile Justice Policy, the Police Juvenile Justice Policy, Protocols and the endorsement of Minimum Standards for Juvenile institutions.
The new Act promotes:
Diversions and mediation, drawn from traditional Melanesian and restorative justice values as an alternative to imprisonment;
fast-tracking police processing of juvenile cases and the reduction of unnecessary pre-trial detention; the prevention of the abuse of juveniles within the criminal justice system;
separating and upgrading prison and police lock up facilities for juveniles;
increasing the monitoring of juvenile conditions in police and prison lock-ups through regular inspections by Juvenile Court Magistrates; and,
The training of juvenile police officers and voluntary juvenile court officers.
Kua said minor amendments would be made to the Correctional Services Act 1995, Criminal Code Act 1974, Village Court Act 1989 and Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act 2009.