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Juvenile justice suspended in Manipur

Guwahati: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) on Monday alleged that juvenile justice has been suspended in Manipur by the Ministry of Women and Child Development because of corruption and misuse of the resources.

The State Government of Manipur claimed that the Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) have been set up in all nine Districts and the Project Approval Board (PAB) for the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development in its 14th meeting on February 22, 2011, approved grants for nine JJBs.

However, as the State government failed to establish the JJBs, the PAB in its 35th Meeting held on January 17, 2012, had no other option but to stop funding to the JJBs for the current Financial Year 2012-2013.

These revelations were made by the ACHR in a report, ‘Manipur: Juvenile Justice Suspended’, released here on Monday.

The report stated that service delivery for institutional care is an astounding case of total misuse of resources. For the first year grant under the IPCS i.e. for 2009-2010, the complete grant was shown to have been utilized by the State Government even though no staff has been appointed to State Project Support Unit, State Child Protection Society (SCPS) etc.

The officials of the State Government of Manipur informed that ‘equipment has been purchased in advance’.

‘It is clear that the funds provided for providing services to children have been diverted for equipments! If that was not enough, the entire grant received under ICPS for 2010-11 too has been claimed to have been utilised, even though no staff has been appointed to SCPS, District Child Protection Units (DCPU) and State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA),’, Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR, said.

The Manipur Government claimed that there are more than 3000 children in the State who are affected by armed conflict, ethnic clashes, orphan children and children living with HIV/AIDS. Given that no Inspection Committee has been set up as required under the JJ(C&PC) Act, the situations in the Homes established under the Act remain deplorable, the report claimed.

The ACHR further stated that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act prevails over any other national security legislation including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958.

However, the Central security forces do not have any knowledge about the JJ(C&PC) Act and children have been regularly apprehended, detained and subjected to torture while many were killed in fake encounters in clear violations of the JJ(C&PC) Act.

The report cited 14 cases of extrajudicial execution of children by the Central and the State security forces.

In the entire State of Manipur, there is only one Government run Observation cum Special Home at Takyelpat in capital Imphal whereas the Army and para-military forces are deployed all over the State.

Further, in the absence of adequate Homes, children in need of care and protection have to be kept in a building attached to the Observation cum Special Home at Takyelpat in Imphal.

The ACHR recommended to the State Government of Manipur to issue a direction to the Army and para-military forces who are legally bound to operate in aid of and under the civil administration to ensure full respect and compliance with the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000 while dealing with children.

It has also recommended operationalising the existing Special Juvenile Police Units, Juvenile Justice Boards and the Inspection Committees in letter and spirit and provide updated information on the website of the Social Welfare Department to ensure transparency, accountability and accessibility; register a case under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000 with respect to ill-treatment of children at Children Homes’ including in the Destitute Children Homes run by the Leprosy Patients’ Welfare Society (LEWS).

The ACHR also recommended to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to conduct an inquiry into the misuse of resources for purposes other than stipulated including non-appointment of the staffs under the IPCS. (UNI)

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