Children in Conflict with the Law [Archives:1998/35/Law & Diplomacy]

August 31 1998

Organized by the Yemeni Bara’em Society in cooperation with the UNICEF under the auspices of the governor of Aden, a three-day workshop on juvenile delinquency was concluded on August 25 in Aden. More than 50 specialists including judges, magistrates, police officers, NGO representatives, and social workers took part in the workshop.
Several research papers were submitted and discussed by four different debate groups: education and social, legal and legislative, executive, and rehabilitation and reform. The participants concentrated on the best ways to deal with juveniles delinquents, address their problems and grievances and rehabilitate them into society. Discussions also focused on the role of the family, society and the state in tackling the problems of juvenile delinquents.
Dr. Ali Abbas, UNICEF consultant and director of the Child Protection Program in Yemen, told Yemen Times: “The UNICEF now aims to introduce the phrase ‘children in conflict with the law,’ instead of the outdated and rather misleading ‘juvenile delinquents.’ The latter phrase has many social and legal implications. It may make some children and youngsters believe they are real criminals.
“The UNICEF is keen on including Yemen within its program for 1999-2001. It is a comprehensive and integrated program to protect orphaned and working children, the preparations for which are already underway.
“A study is prepared in Yemen, in cooperation with the Ra’idaat law firm in Sanaa on the legal status of children when they come into conflict with the law. The study also aims to ascertain the compatibility between Yemeni laws and the international agreement on children.
“We found that Yemeni legislations are quite developed, and problems only arise in implementing these laws. This often results in youngsters being detained for somewhat long periods of time, despite international and local laws stipulating that child court cases must be treated as urgent in order to protect the children’s dignity.
“The UNICEF intends to establish a recreational center at the Home for Juvenile Care in Sanaa. Children living in the neighborhood will be encouraged to visit this center so that they can mix with errant children, as a first step towards rehabilitating the latter into society.”
The participants at the workshop came out with the following recommendations:
1- A home for juvenile care must be established in Aden and other governorates.
2- The Supreme Council for Mother and Child and the Center for Social Studies and Research should study the reasons and motives behind Yemeni children coming into conflict with the law.
3- The Ministry of Information should increase the number of programs directed at children and families by at least 100%.
4- Existing parks and playgrounds must be persevered and developed and new ones created.
5- The Bara’em Society should follow up the implementation of the workshop’s decisions and recommendations.
6- Local authorities are urged to establish special juvenile courts and departments at police stations, in accordance with the Social Care Law No. 24 of 1992.
Ridhwan Al-Saqqaf,
Yemen Times,