Justice long way off for children as new law earns no support

The Jakarta Post – The new Juvenile Justice System Law, which has been praised for improving the treatment of underage offenders, was set to become effective on Friday, but the government still lacks implementing regulations to enforce it.

A lawyer from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), Muhammad Isnur, said the government did not seem serious about implementing the legislation and kept dragging its feet to delay issuing the necessary regulations to put the law into effect.

“In the two years since the bill was signed into law in 2012, not even one government regulation has been issued,” Isnur told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He said community members and law enforcers — police, attorneys and judges — had no awareness or basic understanding of the new law.

The law was passed in 2012. Some of its highlights include the securing of the right of a child under 14 years of age to be accompanied by a social companion — who can be a parent, a lawyer or a community leader — when facing a police investigation.

Police investigations and trials would not be legitimate if the child had no such companion.

Isnur said the spirit of reform embodied by the law enables law enforcers to shift the possible legal consequences for crimes from imprisonment to a more socially beneficial punishment, such as the cleaning of streets and mosques.

He said that in the meantime restorative justice obliged any child who breaks the law to participate in restoring the previous conditions of the victims.

He explained that both approaches were based on the basic understanding that a child could not fully take responsibility for breaking the law.

“A child becomes a victim, too, when breaking a law. People should consider that a child is going through a learning process and cannot face the full consequences, such as going to jail,” he said.

He said that, therefore, the government should also develop infrastructure for juvenile justice system based on the new law, such as building detention centers that would be separated from the juvenile prisons.

However, he said, there were only 16 juvenile prisons at the provincial level.

A law expert from the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), Erasmus Napitupulu, said that the government should issue at least eight legal frameworks — six government regulations and two presidential regulations — according to the Juvenile Justice System Law.

Erasmus said that the government should finish formulating all the implementing regulations no more than one year after the law came into effect on July 31, but he added, however, that the government should move faster than the normal schedule because of the urgency of this law.

“Why is that the law will be enforced without any implementing regulations? Without them, July 31 would be a ceremonial event for releasing the Juvenile Justice System Law,” Erasmus said.

Erasmus said that the approach of law enforcement toward children showed that imprisonment was still the main choice for the punishment meted out by courts.

Based on ICJR data, there were 113 court decisions on criminal offenses from a total of 115 juvenile court decisions in Jakarta alone during 2012.

Of this number, 109 court decisions imposed imprisonment on children, while another four gave them probation.

“This law has an important effect for children who were facing legal sanction. Therefore, law enforcers should obey the stipulations it carries,” Erasmus said.

Erasmus added that the implementation of the Juvenile Justice System Law would be successful depending on the government’s focus and the seriousness of its regulatory control and monitoring over both existing laws and those that would be drafted. (put)

Sumber : http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/08/02/justice-long-way-children-new-law-earns-no-support.html

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