President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has ratified two bills related to the protection of children and adolescents into law. The bills are the Amendment Bill to the Child Rights Protection Act and the Bill on Juvenile Justice. The bills were ratified today, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The reconstituted Child Rights Protection Act outlines the rights and responsibilities for children; and duties of the State, community and parents to protect such rights; and seeks to reduce disparities between the previous law and international child protection laws and standards.

The bill includes several amendments and new additions to protect children from discrimination, bias, harm, cruel punishment, neglect and physical and emotional abuse. The bill also includes provisions such as the right to education, right to health care, and special provisions to protect the rights of children with special needs.

It also stipulates the constitution of a Child Rights Protection Council, Child and Family Protection Service and the appointment of a Children’s Ombudsperson. The bill further raises the legal age of consent for marriage to 18 years, while protecting children below the age of 15 against all regular judicial punishments.

The Juvenile Justice Bill, ratified today, outlines the rights of children and adolescents coming in conflict with the law, or immersed in cycles of violence, juvenile delinquency and means to prevent juvenile delinquencies. It also prescribes a swift resolution to allow reforming juvenile delinquents into productive members of society through rehabilitative facilities.

The bill directs the constitution of a Department of Juvenile Justice; a specialised police department to address juvenile delinquencies; designated State Prosecutors for children; a particular unit of probation and correctional officers; a juvenile diversion programme; rehabilitation programmes; and residential facilities and correctional centres. 

Parliament passed the two bills at its 65th sitting of the third session held on 14 November 2019. Following ratification, the two bills have now been published in the Government Gazette.