Juvenile delinquency on the rise

Kathmandu, January 8

Cases of juvenile delinquencies are increasing at an alarming rate in Nepal, according to the Status of Children in Nepal-2019 published by the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens.

Juvenile delinquency is an anti-social or an illegal act committed by children below the age of 18.

As many as 821 children, including 23 girls, were sent to juvenile correction centres throughout the country in 2018-19, compared to 380 (366 boys and 14 girls) in previous fiscal, an increase by over 115 per cent.

A juvenile delinquent is a person who is under the age of 18 and commits an act, that otherwise would have been charged as crime if s/he was an adult. The minors, who commit a crime punishable by law, are kept in correction centre instead of sending them to jail as per the court order.

The country has eight juvenile correction centres in Bhaktapur, Morang, Kaski, Makwanpur, Parsa, Rupandehi, Banke and Doti. The report said Bhaktapur received the highest number of juvenile delinquents with 231 in 2018-19, followed by Morang (138), Banke (109), Rupandehi (85), Parsa (78), Kaski (74), Makwanpur (66) and Doti (40).

Of them, 597 children were in the age group of 16- 18, 197 in the age group of 14-15 and others were below the age of 14. They were found guilty of 15 types of offences including rape, murder, drug smuggling and theft. As many as 355 underage boys were convicted of rape, 121 of drug smuggling, 112 of murder and 96 of thefts.

Department of Prison Management provides food and other facilities, along with education and skill oriented trainings for juvenile delinquents kept at correction centres guarded by security personnel.

The report has underscored the need for all three tiers of the government to make more effort in reducing cases of juvenile delinquency.

Existing Children Act has a provision of children court to conduct proceeding, hearing and adjudication of offences committed by children.

The government may form children court on the recommendation of the Judicial Council by publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette, according to the Act.

If a child under the age of 10 years is found to have committed an offence, no punishment shall be handed down to him/her.

A child aged between 10 and 14 years shall be released by convincing him/ her not to repeat such act in the future.

In the case of committing an offence liable to jail sentence, the concerned child aged between 10 and 14 years shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding six months or kept at juvenile correction centre for at least one year.