Research in India found that children are held in overcrowded facilities and are subjected to violence and abuse (UNICEF).
According to official statistics, 43,506 children were arrested in India in 2013. Of these, 9,547 were convicted and sent to a special home.
In Pakistan, according to the Society for the Protection for the Rights of the Child (SPARC), as of December 2014, there were a total of 1,456 children detained, of whom 623 were in pre-trial detention and 733 had been convicted. Both the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the national Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have highlighted the high incidence of violence against children in the criminal justice system, as well as conditions that far from comply with international standards including forced labour and placing children in cells with adult prisoners. According to Amnesty, in 2015 at least five people were executed for crimes committed while under the age of 18, and there are reports of many more such cases held on death row.
In Bangladesh, children are mostly tried in regular criminal courts alongside adults, have no legal representation and are imprisoned with adults. According to UNICEF, physical abuse, force and torture are often applied during arrest and interrogation and children are frequently sexually abused.
In all three countries, the age of criminal responsibility is below 12 years, the age indicated as the absolute minimum by the Convention of the Rights of the Child. In India and Pakistan it is just 7 years old, and 9 years old in Bangladesh. In India, 16-year-olds can now be tried as adults for ‘heinous’ offences following the passing of the new Juvenile Justice Act 2015.
What we do
We work with local civil society partners to promote justice for children and to develop comprehensive child-friendly justice systems that are in the best interests of the child. Our objectives include:
- a reduction in the detention of juveniles
- greater use of restorative diversion measures and community-based sanctions
- the prevention of violence against children in police and pre-trial detention
- increasing the age of criminal responsibility to a minimum of 12 years or higher.
We build the capacity of civil society and criminal justice professionals to promote restorative justice for children. We promote good practice, support research and share expertise through training and conferences in our project countries and across the region.