Asian rights body says juvenile justice in Manipur suspended due to corruption

Guwahati/New Delhi, Oct.22 (ANI): In its latest report, the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has claimed that juvenile justice in Manipur is being delayed due to corruption and mis-use of resources.

It rubbishes the Manipur Government's claim of setting up Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) in all nine districts of the state.

It recalls that the Project Approval Board (PAB) for the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development had in its 14th meeting on 22nd February 2011, approved grants for nine JJBs.

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

"The service delivery for institutional care is an astounding case of total mis-use 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," it adds.

"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)," said Suhas Chakma, Director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Chakma further said that the Manipur Government had claimed that there are more than 3000 children in the state who are affected by the armed conflict, ethnic clashes, orphan children and children living with HIV/AIDS.

He added that the situation of the children homes are far from being satisfactory. Given that no Inspection Committee has been set up as required under the JJ(C and PC) Act, the situations in the homes established under the Act remain deplorable.

The report cites 14 cases of extrajudicial execution of children by the central and state security forces.

The ACHR recommended the following steps to the Manipur Government:

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 and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 while dealing with children.

Operationalise 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

Provide adequate human and financial resources to the JJBs and Inspection Committees and the Child Welfare Committees; register a case under the Juvenile Justice (Care and 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)

Establish at least one Juvenile Observation Home and one Special Home in each district of Manipur; and conduct training programme for the judges appointed under the State Judicial Services on the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

It asked Ministry of Women and Child Development:

To conduct an inquiry into the mis-use of resources for purposes other than stipulated including non-appointment of the staffs under the IPCS.

Develop guidelines to provide that the IPCS funds are "non-divertible and non-lapsable"

Conduct a field investigation following submission of reports by the State Government about the constitution of the Juvenile Justice Boards before approval of further grants.

Direct the State Government of Manipur to establish at least one Juvenile Observation Home and one Special Home in each district of Manipur

Direct the State Government of Manipur to conduct training programme for the judges appointed under the State Judicial Services on the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. (ANI)