The Department of Law, Central University of Kashmir (CUK) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Thursday organised a brainstorming session “Situation of Child Rights in the Legal Landscape of Jammu and Kashmir and Proposed Way Forward,” at Nowgam-I academic block of the varsity here.
Dean School of Legal Studies and Head Department of Law, Prof. Sheikh Showkat, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, India, Tannistha Datta, UNICEF Child Protection Consultant for J&K, Hilal Bhat, Child Protection Legal Expert, Anant Asthana, faculty members, research scholars and students were also present during the session.
During the programme, the Department of Law and UNICEF decided to establish a Juvenile Legal Aid Clinic in the varsity to provide legal assistance to the children in conflict with law.
In his inaugural speech, Prof. Sheikh Showkat highlighted the plight of children in Kashmir and inadequacy of the mechanism to deal with their problems. He said the child rights and juvenile justice becomes one of the prime targets in a conflict-ridden situation. Prof. Sheikh Showkat said the department has been holding legal literacy camps across the Kashmir in order to aware the masses about their rights. “Once they get informed about their rights, they start to assert,” he said adding that the department has been contributing on Juvenile Justice as several research scholars have taken up projects on the aforementioned subject and are frequently visiting the juvenile homes, reflecting the conditions there and suggesting the remedial measures to the concerned authorities.
Addressing the participants, Hilal Bhat said the UNICEF is specifically working for the children across the world. Speaking about the role and functioning of UNICEF in Kashmir, he said, the organization started working prior to 1987 and had to shut down its operations after few years following security issues. “UNICEF again started its functioning from 2014 in Kashmir and started working on child protection,” he said adding that the UNICEF is technical advisor to the Government and is providing training to the officials regarding Juvenile Justice and child protection. He said the UNICEF has established J&K Child Resource Centre, which will be the backbone in implementing the Juvenile Justice in the State and the focus of the Centre is Research, Management Information System and Information Education and Communication.
UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, India, Tannistha Datta, while addressing the gathering, said the focus on prevention of wrong acts committed by children should be paramount. “Parenting, community level prevention, vigilance, creating opportunities for young people to do positive things is need of the hour,” Tannistha said, and underscored the need to sensitize and train the officials involved in the juvenile justice system.
Child Protection Legal Expert, Anant Asthana, shared his experience vis-à-vis Juvenile Justice system across the country. Asthana said he drafted the rules for Juvenile Justice in the Jammu and Kashmir, which has been able to put an end to several malpractices. He said the legal aid clinic to be established in CUK would prove extremely beneficial to the children and their families.
Assistant Professor, Department of Law, Hilal Ahmad Najar introduced the programme theme, made a detailed presentation about the initiatives taken by CUK on Child Rights and Juvenile Justice and conducted the proceedings while as Assistant Professor, Anil Kumar proposed the vote of thanks.