No law to protect minors

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 8th May 2013


THERE is no law in the Juvenile Courts Act to protect a person under the age of 18 from committing a crime, a senior legal official has said.

Responding to recent media statements by a provincial police commander, head of restorative justice and crime prevention coordination branch Paul Wagun said: “Police, as the frontline enforcers of law, are empowered to enforce the rule of law without fear or favour regardless of gender, age and status.”

Wagun said the assumption that youths in West New Britain were hiding behind the Juvenile Courts Act and committing crime was wrong.

He said no law would restrict police from carrying out their legislatively mandated role. 

“On this premise, the statements made by WNB provincial police commander Samson Siguyaru could be easily misread by the people.

“No juveniles can commit crimes and get away with it,” Wagun said.

“There is no law that will stop or restrict police from carrying out their frontline duty to arrest any person who commits a crime.

“Whether you are an elderly or a young person under the age of 18 or an adult more than 21 years old, if you commit a crime, there is no law that prohibits police from arresting and charging you for committing a crime,” he said.

Wagun said in the case of juveniles, police did not need the consent of parents to arrest or not to arrest them.

“If a juvenile commits a crime, the police are lawfully duty-bound to request the company of a juvenile court officer to go with them and, in their presence, arrest and lay appropriate charges against a juvenile at the police station. 

“After the charges are laid, then, and only then, can parents and the juvenile court officials take over from the arresting police officer from that moment to ensure the retributive process does not violate certain specific rights accorded to a juvenile under the Juvenile Courts Act,” he said.

Wagun said there were certain protections provided under the Juvenile Courts Act which police must respect and allow the juvenile court officers within the immediate locality to take custody of the juvenile. 

He said police in Kimbe must act swiftly to arrest juveniles who committed crime.