Date :Sunday, February 28th, 2021 | Time : 18:00 |ID: 200911 | Print

Safaa Al-Khawaja: Unprotected children in Bahrain

SHAFAQNA- Bahrain mirror: The Corrective Justice Law for Children No. 4 of 2021, ratified by the King of Bahrain aims at giving top priority to the child’s interests in all rulings, decisions and procedures concerning them, regardless of the authority that issues or executes them. Accordingly, the Corrective Justice Courts for Children, Childhood Judicial Committee and Child Protection Center were established under the Justice Ministry, as a competent party.

It’s described as an important legal network whose theoretical basis aims at achieving corrective justice for children, but the stories of children who have been arrested tell otherwise. What Bahraini human rights organizations say in their statements and reports is that: Children are usually vulnerable to arbitrary arrests that violate their childhood rights.

Salam for Democracy and Human Rights stated that it documented 14 cases of child arrest, whose ages are not more than 13 years. Four of them have been released; however, they continue to be prosecuted over cases that are not in line with the Children’s Act. How can these laws, which in reality differ from what news articles and reports describe them as, provide safety to children who don’t feel secure?

These children want the Corrective Justice Law to grant them justice and protect from the violent scenes that follow them in their environment. A report issued by Bahrain Center for Human Rights, entitled “Bahrain’s Children between imprisonment and citizenship revocation” said that Bahrain’s laws and regulations don’t conform with international treaties and conventions, particularly in determining the age of childhood and the right to citizenship.

There is a gap between the provisions of the laws governing children’s rights and their implementation, which renders oversight bodies and parties in charge of accountability, especially parliament, responsible for what children are being exposed to. The children who were recently released said that they lack a sense of security, as human rights activist Ibtisam Al-Saegh said on her Instagram account: “The children I visited were afraid and wondered about protection.”

Children belong to their books and school desks, and they should live in peace, not inside the walls of prisons. Bahrain is one of the first countries to ratify the UN Children’s Convention in 1992, which binds the authorities to respect children’s rights and provide them with security and human dignity.

There is a juvenile prison in Bahrain, which is concerned with achieving corrective justice for child inmates and for immunity from danger or abuse. Children are asking their community for protection that guarantees them a safe environment that is not subject to security abuse and does not make them live in an atmosphere of intimidation that destroys the beauty and innocence of their childhood. It is a collective responsibility to ensure that our children have access to security in their environment and in their own country.

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