Juvenile Court orders gender ministry to assume custody of a minor

The Juvenile Court has released an unprecedented order for the Ministry of Law and Gender to assume custody of a minor whose parents were seen to be unfit to take guardianship of him.

The 15-year-old was tried at the court on charges of drug abuse. The court stated that the minor’s detention has been extended by the court several times with regard to charges of drug abuse and possession. However, in accordance with a decision from the Prosecutor General’s Office, the court has dropped charges against him.

The court then sought his parents so as to release him to their custody. However, they were unable to find any persons willing to take responsibility of the child.

The Juvenile Court stated that it released the order as the child’s father is unfit to take custody of the child as he himself has previous charges on multiple counts of drug abuse and has served time in prison.

Meanwhile, the child’s mother has responded to the court’s request to take custody of him by stating that she is unable to take guardianship of the child due to her current situation. Any further details of the reasons she presented to court have not been made public.

According to the court order, the recently formed Ministry of Law and Gender has to take responsibility for the child until he is eighteen years of age, or until the state is able to identify legal guardians from among his relatives.

In the order they released on Thursday, the court stated that in accordance with Article 35(a) of the Maldives Constitution, Child Rights Protection Act and international treaties, the state is mandated to take responsibility for children in such situations.

The order further states that the Ministry of Law and Gender and the Juvenile Justice Unit under the Ministry of Home Affairs had stated argued that they are unable to assume custody of the child as there is currently no system set in place where such minors can be housed and taken care of.

The court, however, ordered the Gender Ministry to take custody of the child until he is 18-years-old or other legal guardians are arranged.

While the Ministry of Gender and Law confirmed that Deputy Minister Shidhatha Shareef is in charge of the matter, Minivan News was unable to contact her at the time of press.

Juvenile Court Media Spokesperson Fathimath Sajidha was unable to provide further information on the matter at the time of press.