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Juvenile Justice and Child Courts in Pakistan

Given that Pakistan ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on Eliminating all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the United
Nations Convention Against Torture, the ILO convention 182 and the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities; keeping in view the constitution of Pakistan: articles 10-A, 14(2), 25 (1)(2)(3), 25-A, 26 (2)
in particular; given the recent enactment of the Juvenile Justice System Act 2018 and the various child protection
laws enacted in the country such as the ICT Child Protection Act 2018, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection
and Welfare Act 2010 and the Balochistan Child Protection Act 2016, it is critical to reinforce the protection and
enforcement of children’s rights in the country. According to SAHIL, a credible Pakistani child rights organization,
reported cases of child abuse rose by 32 per cent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the corresponding
period in 20171. Yet, child protection experts admit that the conviction rate in child abuse is very low since most of
the victims’ families either avoid registering cases or settle out of court due to pressure and societal taboos.
Additionally, a report from NACTA and ICRC states that 1.3% of the prison population in Pakistan comprises juveniles,
out of whom 91% are under trial prisoners2; Justice Project Pakistan has identified 6 juveniles3 who were executed
in blatant violation of the country’s legal obligations under ICCPR. Consequently, establishing child courts to
adjudicate cases for children in conflict or in contact with the law as per international safeguarding standards and in
alignment with our constitution and our legislation has become of paramount importance.

Establishing child courts in Pakistan will enable:

- Adjudication aligned with international child rights standards and the enforcement of juvenile justice as per
its four fundamental principles 1) the best interest of the child 2) right to protection 3) right to be heard 4)
- Promoting fair trial;
- REFORMATIVE JUSTICE for juvenile offenders and hereby decrease in the number of juveniles in
- Speedier disposal of cases involving children in conflict or in contact with the law and therefore the
reduction of cases pendency;
- Reducing and eventually ending juveniles’ pre-conviction detention in Pakistan which will help addressing
overcrowding in prisons;
- Improved trust of the public in the judicial and state institutions involved in the justice sector which
ultimately contributes to a deterrent effect leading to improved rule of law, security, a better governance
and peace.


- Include child courts in the spectrum of courts for criminal justice reform in Pakistan;
- Pilot child courts in each provincial capital initially;
- Develop SOPs for expertise based adjudication;
- Develop an M&E framework to provide evidence on reduction of pendency rates, consistency in use of age
determination protocols and standardization & quality of protection and rehabilitation measures for


2 Addressing Overcrowding in Prison by Addressing Pre-Conviction Detention in Pakistan, p 26

3 Death Row’s Children, Executive Summary, p 5, Feb 2017.
- Conduct a Lahore Child Court assessment and collect data on child related cases at district level in Pakistan
for baseline;
- Gather and analyze data for evidence-based design an upscaling plan of child courts in Pakistan;
- Design and organize a capacity building program on juvenile justice for actors of justice in Pakistan with a
specific focus on age determination protocol, diversion, adjudication of cases of sexual violence against
children, cases of child abuse more generally;
- Organize a national conference on juvenile justice.