New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) while releasing its report “State of Juvenile Justice in Mizoram” today stated that there is an alarming increase in child abuse and crimes committed by the juveniles in Mizoram but the state government is not sincere in the implementation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000. Although the Juvenile Justice Act has been enacted more than a decade ago, the statutory support services namely the Juvenile Justice Boards and the Child Welfare Committees in Mizoram have been set up in all the eight districts only during 2010-11.
Sexual abuse of children remains high. A study by Social Welfare Department of Mizoram government and Aizawl-based NGO, Human Rights & Law Network (HLRN) recorded 630 cases of child sexual abuse during the period of 2003 to 2009. Children are not safe anywhere in the state as most cases of child sexual abuse were committed by relatives, friends and teachers of the victims.
Juvenile delinquency remains equally high. During the last decade from 2002 to 2011, the National Crime Records Bureau under the Ministry of Home Affairs recorded a total of 1,699 cases of “juvenile delinquency” in Mizoram. These include 1,258 cases registered under the Indian Penal Code and 441 cases under the Special and Local Laws.
“Mizoram has failed miserably in providing institutional care. The lack of separate Special Home and the poor facilities in the existing “Observation Home-cum-Special Homes” at Aizawl and Lunglei, overcrowding, lack of segregation of the juveniles on the basis of the nature of their crimes severely undermine the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act”, stated Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.
The “Observation Home-cum-Special Home” at Lunglei is overcrowded and facilities are poor. The Home has a capacity to house only 10 inmates (boys only). The Officer-in-Charge took the initiative of adding 4 extra beds for the inmates as sometimes number of inmate increases beyond the capacity. However, many a times the inmates exceeded 14 and in such situations the inmates had to sleep on the floor. Ironically, Mizoram government has failed to utilize the grants under Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) provided by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. On 6 July 2012, Mizoram informed the Project Approval Board under ICPS that Rs 75.25 lakhs was lying unspent from the grants of 2011-12. Further, the State government informed that it had received construction grant for 2 Government Homes in 2011 but this grant was still unutilized.
There are 28 recognized Children Homes in Mizoram and almost all of them are either privately owned or run by faith based organizations. As majority of the Children Homes are run through charity and children are admitted without the consent of the Child Welfare Committees, the lack of supervision by the state government is responsible for poor conditions of the Children Homes. The First Step Children Home, Aizawl is inhospitable for small children and the Home’s authorities have decided to close it down but the state government is yet to take a decision about it.
On 13 July 2009, a 13-year-old child identified as Lalnunpuia, son of Rinsanga of Chaltlang Lily in Aizawl, was beaten to death by the officials at the Herald for Christ’s Children Home, a government recognized Children Home at Lungleng, about 15 kms north of Aizawl.
“The NHRC has awarded compensation of Rs 300,000 to the mother of Lalnunpuia based on the complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights (NHRC Case No. 7/16/1/09-10) but the particular murder shows the problems of those who require the outmost care”- further stated Mr Chakma.
Asian Centre for Human Rights recommended to the Mizoram government to establish the new Special and Observation Homes sanctioned by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in the districts not having such homes; separate the Observation Homes and Special Homes at Aizawl and Lunglei; ensure judicial utilization of funds within the financial year; implement the recommendations made by the PAB under ICPS to establish more Observation Homes, Special Homes, Children Homes, and Shelter Homes and improve facilities at the Homes; ensure segregation of juveniles and children as per age and nature of offences; provide educational and vocational training facilities both within and outside the Homes and tie up with vocational training institutes; appoint adequate number of staff, including the Warden at the Observation Home-Cum-Special Home at Aizawl, and staff at three Shelter Homes at Aizawl, Mamit and Champhai; improve the functioning of the JJBs and CWCs through proper selection of the members and imparting adequate training; reduce the number of pendency cases both at JJBs and CWCs by increasing the number of sittings; and ensure regular inspections including surprise visits to all the juvenile justice and care institutions, whether run by government or private entities. [Ends]