JJWC calls for lawful and humane treatment of minors

Published September 7, 2020, 6:04 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

“Violence against children is unacceptable.”

This was stressed by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), as it warned Monday the local officials and law enforcement authorities against imposing inhumane and harsh penalties against minors who are found violating quarantine protocols. 

The Council, chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, sought “lawful and humane treatment” of minor-curfew violators, as it expressed alarm over “frequent reports on abuses to minors involving local officials.”

“This matter greatly concerns the JJWC as the policy-making, coordinating, and monitoring body that is tasked with the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act. Local officials are at the forefront in protecting the rights of the children in their respective communities. Hence, they are the authority that should set an example in abiding the law,” it said in a statement. 

“Children who violated the protocols should be accountable but this should be done in compliance with the law and child-sensitive approaches,” it stressed. 

The DSWD, as chair of the Council, advised the local officials and law enforcement authorities to “take guidance” and strictly implement the following policies: 

-Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2020-001 issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Council for the Welfare of Children, which reiterates protocols on reaching out to children, including those in street situations, in need of special protection, children at risk (CAR), and children in conflict with the law (CICL) during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ); and 

-DILG Advisory on the Additional Guide in Handling Children Who Violate Curfew and Quarantine Rules, which lays down the  steps on the first contact with the CAR who were found outside their homes or domiciles during the community quarantine.

The JJWC reminded the barangay officials and law enforcement officers to adhere to the following guidance:

-Explain to the child in simple language why he/she is being brought to the barangay;
-Refrain from using vulgar or profane words and from sexually harassing or abusing or making sexual advances on the child found during curfew;
-Avoid displaying or using any firearm, weapon, handcuffs, or other instruments of force or restraint, unless absolutely necessary and only after all other methods of control have been exhausted but to no avail; and
-Avoid violence or unnecessary force.

The Council said they are counting on the local government units (LGUs) to implement intervention programs as stated in the guidance.

“Interventions can take the form of asking children to write or declare an apology; continuous monitoring on the child of responsible barangay officials; online counselling for CICL and the child’s family; attendance in webinars or online lectures; and volunteering in community service,” it said. 

“Violence against children is unacceptable especially in the context of discipline and accountability,” it stressed. 

The Council exhorted the public and concerned stakeholders to to work together in ensuring the rights and welfare of the children are safeguarded.