Number of juvenile offenders increase 55 percent

The number of juvenile offenders arrested in the first six months of 2014 increased 55 percent compared to the same period last year, a statistical report made public by the Home Ministry’s Juvenile Justice Unit (JJU) today has revealed.

Some 98 minors were arrested this year while the figure was 54 last year.

The majority of offenders were males between the ages of 16 and 18, the report noted, with only 10 cases involving underaged girls.

The most common offence was possession of drugs, followed by 18 cases of assault, 10 cases of disobedience to order, and 10 cases of theft.

Moreover, 36 percent of the offenders were school children while 56 percent were of indeterminate background.

The JJU suggested that broken families, physical abuse, and poor parenting were some of the causes behind the increase in arrests.

The report also noted flaws in the correctional procedures for juveniles and the lack of a separate system for juvenile offenders as challenges to rehabilitation.

Moreover, there was an absence of avenues for taking action against irresponsible and abusive parents, the report noted.


Only six convicted minors completed reintegration programmes in 2013

The Juvenile Court has released the statistics from last year showing the number of convicted minors that applied to participate in the Correctional Center for Children, revealing that 21 had applied to take part in the programs and only six completed it successfully.

According to a statement issued by the court gave the opportunity to participate for 16 minors out of 21 that applied to the rehabilitation programmes, aimed to facilitate reintegration into society.

Of the 16 charged, the Juvenile Court stated that five minors were charged with drug and alcohol related offenses, two charged with fornication and sexual misconduct, four charged with theft, two with robbery, two charged with objection to order and one charged with assault and battery.

The court said that the purpose of the programmes was to give a second chance for minors charged with criminal offenses to reintegrate in to the society and also to determine minors charged with criminal offenses that are working and studying and to help them continue their studies and work if they were sentenced.

In addition, the Juvenile Court said the program included teaching different types of work to minors charged with criminal offenses.

The court noted that those participating in the program had varied reasons for not completing, and also that there were minors that repeated criminal offences during the programme.

The Juvenile Court said that these programs were conducted in accordance with the court’s child correctional programs conducted under the regulation on juvenile justice procedure articles 19 and 20.

The programmes are conducted in cooperation with all the concerned authorities, and juveniles taking part in the programmes will have to participate in different programmes conducted by the correctional centre for children, the Juvenile Justice Unit, the National Drug Agency programmes and programmes conducted by the Ministry of Gender and Human Rights as well as different social programs conducted by NGOs, the Juvenile Court said.

A report made by Dr Aishath Ali Naaz for the Asia Foundation titled ‘Rapid situation assessment of gangs in Male’ 2012’’ suggested that minors are the most vulnerable within gangs and that they were used by gang leaders to carry out the gang’s dirty work, such as selling drugs and alcohol, inflicting harm on others and vandalizing property.

Dr Naaz’s reports said that judges have the discretion to deliver a more lenient sentence with regard to most criminal offences committed by offenders who are 16 years old or younger and gang leaders exploit this fact by using minors to carry out crimes.

Last year the Juvenile Court concluded 125 cases, with 54 of the cases concluded being drug related offenses committed by minors.

According to the Juvenile Court statistics the Prosecutor General filed 103 cases last year while 83 cases were filed in the Juvenile Court the year before.

The statistics also showed that 584 cases were brought before the judges to decide upon the extension of pretrial detention period for arrested minors.

Speaking this week at the inauguration of a youth camp aimed at preparing adolescents for integration into the workplace, Home Minister Umar Naseer pledged to introduce mandatory government service for school leavers.

Speaking at the same event, Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed spoke of the need to create a responsible young generation.

“There is no pleasure any one can reap from frequenting scenes of crimes. It is by strongly staying away from crime and being responsible that real happiness can be achieved,” Waheed said.


95 percent of juvenile offenders school dropouts, reveals Juvenile Justice report

The vast majority of juvenile offenders reported to the Juvenile Justice Unit (JJU) between April 1 and June 30 this year do not attend school, according to a report released by the JJU this week.

Of the 22 minors aged 16 to 18 referred to the unit in the three-month period, 95 percent had dropped out of school at the eighth or ninth grades while most do not live with their parents.

“It is possible that the children living under the care of other guardians for the purpose of studies or other reasons and not living with their parents could be a reason leading them to commit crimes,” the report notes.

It adds that the most children prone to delinquency belonged to gangs and were deprived of access to education and recreation facilities suitable to their age.

While the most common offences by juveniles include violent assault, drug abuse and theft, two of the 22 juveniles offenders were involved in a murder case.

The majority of arrests were meanwhile made in the capital Male’.

Juvenile Correction Centre in Feydhoo FinolhuAs part of its restorative justice mandate, the JJU isolates juvenile offenders at the Correctional Training Centre in Feydhoo Finolhu for rehabilitation programmes designed to reform delinquents.

The centre was opened on July 26, 2010 with 14 children and accredited educational courses on offer.

Offending children released from the centre are monitored with the help of Family and Children Centres in the atolls, the report notes, but lack of job opportunities remained “a major challenge.”

A draft Juvenile Justice Bill has meanwhile been sent to the Attorney General’s Office to create a legal framework to honour the country’s commitments under international conventions.

The legislation would establish a juvenile justice system separate from the criminal justice system for adults to “provide the special protection and assistance due to children.”

According to the report, a life-skills training and parental skills training programme with UNICEF assistance is due to be launched this year for JJU staff.

“Following [the training programmes], students and parents will be offered training and information,” it reads. “In addition, a feasibility study is to be conducted this year on community based rehabilitation with the help of a foreign consultant.”


Reformed delinquents released back to families

A number of reformed juvenile offenders at the Children’s Correction Training Centre in Feydhoo Finolhu have been released back to their families, reports Haveeru.

Juvenile Justice Unit Director General Hamid Yousuf from the Home Ministry explained that about 25 children aged 13 to 17 successfully completed reformatory programmes while an additional four children were expected to take two more weeks.

The centre is now preparing to receive a new batch of juvenile offenders, he said.

The programme includes academic courses, art classes, instruction in craftsmanship as well as entertainment and sports activities.

Funds have been earmarked in next year’s budget for a new juvenile detention centre, said Hamid, as juvenile offenders currently had to be kept in jail with adults after sentencing.