Protecting Children in the Justice System

Children may be confronted with the justice system when being victims, suspects, witnesses, or parties in criminal or civil cases. Legal protection for children, ranging from how law is designed and enforced, should be based on the child’s best interests based on scientific evidence about the characteristics and roots of the problem and what is effective and not to overcome them.

Indonesia currently has Law No. 11 Year 2012 on the Juvenile Justice System (JJS Law) as a substitute of Law No. 3 of 1997 on Juvenile Court which is more protective for children in conflict with the law. One of the things underlined in this JJS Law is that the application of prison detention and imprisonment to the children should be the last resort after a diversion effort in every stage of criminal justice has been committed, along with the quality legal assistance, and integrated rehabilitation and reintegration for children both as victims or offenders.

After almost six years since the JJS Law was issued, we are still facing numerous problems. It includes the incomplete regulations to support JJS Law, inadequate facilities and the resources to implement diversion, as well as the services that respect children’s rights as victims. Attempts at updating the Criminal Code also have been done. Unfortunately, the existing Criminal Code still has the potential to criminalize and discriminate children.

This time, the Learning Series will discuss the development of the juvenile justice system in the global context and Indonesia from various perspectives. We will discuss its challenges, opportunities, and factors that affect the implementation of the system. We will find out to which extent the existing services, human resources, and regulations can address the needs for implementation of the juvenile justice system and help policy makers and service providers develop more inclusive and child-friendly policy and programs.