Officials from the Ministry of Justice and several children’s rights NGOs met on Thursday to push for the 2002 draft of the Justice for Juvenile Act to be passed into law.
The Act is hoped to stop unwarranted arrests and excessive detainment of juveniles, food shortages, lack of healthcare, and lack of acceptable infrastructure for minors in prison.
It is aimed at helping both juvenile offenders and innocent children who are behind prison walls, having followed their mothers there.
“We are deeply concerned about the justice system for juveniles in prisons, which needs an emergency solution,” said Ton Phichea, a legal consultant from the Bar Services of Cambodia.
Although Cambodia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, much progress still needs to be made, according to It Rady, the under-secretary of state for the Ministry of Justice, who said that there is still no law that protects juveniles from being manipulated by the justice system.
Although the current penal code clearly states the legally sanctioned length of arrest and detainment within police stations, he argued that juveniles are subject to longer periods of illegal detention.
He also called for juvenile detainees to be protected from adult offenders.
“Juveniles must be kept in a separate ward, away from adults,” he said. “There must also be training available for the juveniles so that they can successfully rehabilitate back into society upon their release.”
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