Vol. 5 Num 295 Sat. March 26, 2005  

Children Act 1974
Change in mindset needed to attain its objectives

A change in the mindset of the law enforcement agencies, judiciary and the society as a whole to attain the objectives of The Children Act 1974, said the speakers at a seminar on Thursday.

They stressed the need for increasing the number of probation officers, sensitising the law enforcement officials and setting up of uniformity in determining the age of the child offenders.

The seminar titled ' The Children Act 1974: A critical analysis,' was organised by Save the Children, UK at Spectra Convention Centre in the city.

Differentiating the goals, purposes and methods of juvenile and criminal courts, Advocate Shahdheen Malik, director of the School of Law of Brac University, said the identity of the offender is vital for the juvenile court. "Care, treatment, protection and rehabilitation are the objectives of the juvenile court instead of retribution," he added.

Advocate Nizamul Huq Nasim, another discussant, suggested some amendments to give priority to children act over other laws.

Citing different cases and their verdicts, Nasim said determination of age is a major factor to be considered during the trial.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Jalal Ahmed said officers-in-charge (OC) are not yet motivated in dealing with child offenders.

He also called for increasing the number of probation officers in the districts.

The CMM said more than 60 children under 16 are brought to his court everyday.

Determination of the age of the offender is very important in the functioning of the juvenile court, said Habibun Nessa of Save the Children, UK.

She said police should concentrate only on the incident, rather than questioning the offender.

Deputy Attorney General Adilur Rahman Khan said, "Magistrates in the judiciary are also not equipped in dealing with the cases of children."

In his thanksgiving speech, David Humphrey, programme director of Save the Children, said the mindset of all the stakeholders has to be proactive, rather than reactive.