The Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed a manual titled “Living conditions in Institutions for Children in conflict with Law”.
The manual was prepared following the directions of the Supreme Court dated 5 February 2016 in the matter of Re-inhuman conditions in 1382 prisons, WP (C) 406 of 2013.
The apex court directed the ministry to prepare a manual similar to the Model Prison Manual as being prepared by Ministry of Home Affairs that will take into consideration the living conditions and other issues pertaining to juveniles who are in Observation Homes or Special Homes or Places of Safety in terms of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
The objective of preparing such a Manual for children in conflict with law is to provide guidelines to the States/UTs and other stakeholders which will help them to establish institutions for children in conflict with the law and providing appropriate institutional and rehabilitative services to them.
About the Manual
• The Manual has been framed within the purview of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016.
• The Manual puts in one place all aspects of the living conditions and other issues pertaining to children in conflict with the law who are in Observation Homes, Special Homes and Place of Safety.
• It also lays down the processes to be followed by all concerned stakeholders while providing services to children.
• The Manual shall enable all duty bearers in Observation Homes, Special Homes and Place of Safety to appreciate the importance of their role and contribute positively and proactively in the rehabilitation of children in conflict with law living in these institutions.
Major highlights of the Manual
• It asks staffers at government homes for juveniles have been asked not to hug or fondle children, kiss or use abusive language or beat them.
• It says that any staffer should not sleep alone with any child or use corporal punishment or tolerate corporal punishment.
• "They should also not do things of a personal nature that a child could do for him/herself, including dressing, bathing and grooming," the manual states.
• To facilitate or tolerate corporal punishment, the manual asks all staffers to ensure a culture of openness.
• The staffers have been instructed not to engage children in personal work or take any photographs that could violate the child's dignity or privacy.
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• It urges staffers to be "inclusive" and involve children without exclusion on the basis of gender, disability, ethnicity or religion.
• The manual also says that staffers and employees "should not kiss, hug, fondle, rub or touch a child in an inappropriate or culturally insensitive way...They should also not use language that will mentally or emotionally abuse the child or threaten or use the abusive language".
• It also warns the staffers against the potential for peer abuse and urges them to develop special measures/supervision to protect younger and especially vulnerable children from peer and adult abuse." In this context, it cites instances such as children being bullied, victimised, abused or discriminated against.
• They have been asked not to develop "sexual relation with a child or give cash or any kind of gifts" directly to children.
When: May 2017