Government officials yesterday said the public will be given a chance to comment on a penal procedures code being drafted for juveniles at a workshop being planned for Dec 13 at NagaWorld.
Kong Chhan, deputy director-general of the Social Affairs Ministry’s technical affairs department, said the public was invited to join government and nongovernment representatives to review the latest draft of the code, but refused to supply a copy.
The government announced in July that it was drafting codes that would establish separate detention facilities for juveniles, set maximum penalties at five years in jail, allow for criminal records to be expunged in adulthood and prevent the courts from bringing criminal charges against suspects younger than 14. Mr Chhan said the government had been working on the codes since 2002.
At the moment, he said, “we don’t have specific laws for juveniles under 18 who commit illegal acts, like stealing or robbery.
“The draft law aims to protect the rights and dignity of juveniles who commit illegal acts and also to give justice to the victims,” he said. “The law also gives children who are under the age of 18 rehabilitation and integration services.”
Mr Chhan said the code would give police the discretion to let arrested juveniles sign contracts promising not to reoffend instead of sending them straight to court.
He said the Dec 13 meeting would also be the last workshop on the code before the ministries revise it and send it on to the Council of Ministers.
Liv Mauv, deputy director-general of the Interior Ministry’s prisons department, welcomed the draft but remained cautious.
“The law is good, but we have to make sure that the children will be educated to understand their mistakes and not commit them again in the future,” he said.
Sambath Sokunthea, advocacy communications manager at the NGO Every Child, which helped draft the code, also welcomed the progress.
“This draft law will protect the children’s interests, dignity and the social interest,” he said.