The Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed a manual titled “Living conditions in Institutions for Children in conflict with Law”, in conformity with the Supreme Court decision in the case of Re-inhuman conditions in 1382 prisons, WP (C) 406 of 2013. The Court had, in February, 2016, directed the Centre to prepare a manual similar to the Model prison Manual being prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs, to address the living conditions and other issues pertaining to juveniles who are in Observation Homes or Special Homes or Places of Safety in terms of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
Therefore, a Manual has now been framed within the purview of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016. It provides guidelines to the States/UTs and other stakeholders, in order to enable them to establish institutions for children in conflict with law, and provide appropriate institutional and rehabilitative services to them.
“The lack of care and protection facing children in the institutional care is a global crisis with billions of children experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation. As we all know that children without adequate care and protection are commonly stigmatized, and have inequitable access to education, health, social protection and justice. Combined with long lasting impacts of neglect, abuse and institutionalization, this lack of access to basic services severely diminishes life chances, creating a spiral of disadvantage and hampering their development… We will all agree that it is very important and necessary to provide a safe, secure and conducive environment to children who for some reason are staying in the institutions, which may facilitate their holistic development and change them into productive citizens,” the Manual states.
It then goes on to urge all staffers to ensure a culture of “openness” to facilitate greater interaction with children, and directs them to be “inclusive” and involve children without exclusion on the basis of gender, disability, ethnicity or religion.
The Manual also warns staffers from engaging children in personal work or taking any photographs that could violate the child’s dignity or privacy. The Code of Conduct further states that the staff, employees and duty bearers shall not “kiss, hug, fondle, rub or touch a child in an inappropriate or culturally insensitive way; sleep alone with any child; use corporal punishment or tolerate corporal punishment by the staff.”
Moreover, it warns them against “the potential for peer abuse” and urges them to “develop special measures/supervision to protect younger and especially vulnerable children from peer and adult abuse.”
Read the Manual here.