Law Conflicts

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Situational Analysis on Children in Conflict with the Law and the Juvenile Justice System Atty. Sedfrey Candelaria; Atty. Aleli Domingo; Amanda Roselle Abrera; Geo Carbonell; Ma. Victoria Cardona and Tricia Oco

Adhikain Para sa Karapatang Pambata (AKAP) of the Ateneo Human Rights Center, Ateneo Law School and United Nations Children’s Fund, 1998. E-mail: ahrc@acc.aiti.admu.edu.ph/ manila@unicef.org

The Philippine Senate, through Resolution No. 109 dated July 20, 1990 ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) paving the way for the Convention’s implementation at the domestic level. This afforded children the set of protective rights related to the juvenile justice system under Articles 37, 39, and 40. The Philippine Government submitted its compliance commentaries on these provisions in its Initial Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 1993. In response, the CRC committee submitted the following principal concerns:

• need for national legislation to conform with the convention • need for efficient mechanisms to monitor the situation of these children in conflict with the law • need for compatibility of the present juvenile justice system to the principles and provisions of the convention and other international standards

The development of a situational analysis on children in conflict with the law and the juvenile justice system is deemed necessary to guide policy-makers in implementing effective programs and procedures to protect the rights of the child.

Purpose of the Research

Last May 7, 1997, a consultative meeting was conducted, with representatives from the five pillars of criminal justice: law enforcement, prosecution, courts, correction and the community.

The main purpose was to gather more data and to validate initial observations and analysis on the status of juvenile justice administration in the Philippines. The objectives of the research were therefore constituted as follows:

• To analyze data and existing studies on children in conflict with the law; • To assess the current situation of the administration of juvenile justice in light of the principles and relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (e.g. Articles 37, 39 and 40); and • To recommend practical and achievable steps toward reforming the juvenile justice system.

Methodology

The research team reviewed the data covering 1993 to 1997 on various aspects of the juvenile justice process. This was derived from existing studies, surveys or reports prepared by a number of groups concerned with children in conflict with the law. These materials were supplemented by actual interviews and responses to questionnaires sent to selected institutional respondents. A series of dialogues with judges of designated courts for children’s cases were also conducted from April to June 1997.

Findings

The data reveals that while there are Philippine laws, rules and regulations applicable to children in conflict with the law, prosecution and trial procedures in general do not make distinctions between adult and youthful offenders facing charges before the courts.

As regards the profile of the Filipino child in conflict with the law, findings show that the youthful offender is: usually male; between the ages of fourteen (14) to seventeen (17) years; an elementary graduate; a middle child from a low-income family with four (4) to six (6) members; charged with property related crimes (robbery and theft); and, exposed to drugs or gang influence.

The experience of a number of youthful offenders with the various stages of the juvenile justice process reveals occasional neglect and insensitivity by duty holders.

Analysis

The following is a brief analysis of the three sub-sections pertaining to the legal framework and processes, institutional framework, and the narrative and statistical report. It will underscore the strengths as...
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