PESHAWAR: Chief Justice Peshawar High Court Waqar Ahmad Seth inaugurated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s first Child Protection Court at the city’s Judicial Complex on Saturday.
Under the province’s Child Protection and Welfare Act, 2010, and Federal Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018, the court will handle all kinds of issues related to children.
Addressing a news conference, the high court’s registrar, Khwaja Wajih-ud-Din, said that the new court would uphold the rights of children, help young people, and protect the properties of orphans.
“The Peshawar High Court has already requested the provincial administration to set up 34 Child Protection Courts in KP to provide speedy justice to children,” he informed, adding that 62 juvenile cases had already been shifted to the newly established court on the day of its inauguration.
In collaboration with a local non-governmental organization, Group Development Pakistan (GDP), and an international donor, UKAid, the management of the new facility has adorned courtrooms with cartoons and paintings.
Imran Takkar, a child rights activist, described the development as a landmark moment in KP’s history. “Instead of prisons, juveniles should be treated in segregated rehabilitation centers because education is the fundamental right of every child,” he said. “Almost 49 percent population of our country is below the age of 18. Hence, setting up child courts is necessary to ensure the well-being of a very large segment of our society.”
Valerie Khan, GDP’s chief executive, also advocated reformative and constructive approach while dealing with children. “Even in cases where children violate any law, they should not be treated like common criminals,” she said. “It is everyone’s responsibility to work for the protection of children.”
The staff members of the Child Protection Court have also been trained to be sensitive while dealing with children. The facility’s management will also ensure that children do not come face to face with the offenders during a trial since that can put them under tremendous pressure.
“It is not just the duty of parents to take care of their children’s well-being. The state must also play a role to provide a friendly environment to children within and outside the courtroom,” Sharafat Ali, a lawyer, told Arab News.
However, Imran Takkar lamented there were still “no jails for children,” and about 500 juveniles were kept with hardened criminals in the province’s prison facilities.