Last week, the Lower House of the Jordanian Parliament approved the 2014 draft juvenile law, which contains a number of measures to improve the protection and treatment of children in the juvenile justice system.
With this new law, Jordan is making a significant step towards a child-friendly justice system which operates in accordance with international standards and good practice, emphasises the special nature of children, and recognises the need to ensure the proper application of procedures to meet the best interests of children in conflict with the law, and to reduce their exposure to negative effects that may result from contact with the legal system.
The draft law put before parliament will replace the Juveniles Law No. 24 of 1968 and its amendments. The existing law does not comply with the international standards, and does not reflect the the comments of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child No.10 and No.14, related to the treatment of children in conflict with the law and the importance of the best interests of the child.
This new draft law raises the age of criminal responsibility from 7 years to 12 years to be more in line with international standards. It puts greater emphasis on restorative measures, giving the juvenile police the authority to settle disputes in cases of offences and misdemeanors attracting penalties of no more than two years, and introducing the two positions of Judge of Conflict Settlement and the Judge of Executing Sentences into the juvenile justice system.
The draft law introduces legal guarantees protecting children’s rights and their enjoyment of the full rights due to them under international standards; national legislation related to the conduct of trials in juvenile cases; and protective measures in cases where legal aid is not provided.
The draft law is now being discussed by the Senate before being submitted to the King of Jordan for ratification. The draft law is the result of many long debates and discussions involving the majority of actors in the field of human and child rights. PRI, the Jordanian Ministry of Social Development, National Council for Family Affairs, the National Council for Human Rights and UNICEF all played a big role in advocating for the draft law. PRI will now continue to work with its official and non-official partners on drafting of the executive regulations needed to apply the provisions of the draft law. PRI plans to train all related personnel to ensure the best application of this law.