Children’s Police and the Necessity for its...
Today millions of children around the world are either in difficult conditions because of having no guardians, displacement due to conflict or natural disasters, malnutrition, infection from dangerous diseases, parents’ addictions or problems due to parents’ divorce, or are in the trap of evil individuals, they are exploited and their rights are abused in various forms while they are engaged in activities such as distribution of drugs, prostitution and forced labour. Of course the form of children’s rights violation varies in different parts of the world. In developing countries, children mostly struggle with poverty and its repercussions such as malnutrition, lack of hygiene, lack of access to medical and educational services; whereas in developed countries, children struggle with moral problems and weakness of the family institution. Under these circumstances, the guarantee of the observation of children’s rights, support for their welfare, and a life without fear, and their growth in peace and tranquillity, requires, ethnic, national and international commitments. To this aim, the setting up of an expertise body for the support of juvenile criminals or victims of crime, can be an important step in the support of our future generation.
A look at children’s rights
At the international level, children’s rights is not a new issue, and dates back to the end of the First World War. Adoption of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) by the unanimous vote of the UN General Assembly showed a universal will for the move towards a better future for children. The contents of the Convention is the result of decades of thinking and collection of experiences from all over the world from different cultures and countries. Since then, we have witnessed a move towards the realisation of children’s rights in accordance with the contents of the Convention, in a way that many countries have reviewed their national laws within the framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 1994, the Islamic Republic of Iran signed the Convention conditionally, and since then it has showed its commitment towards the improvement of children’s situation through notable advances in health and hygiene, education and training, freedom of expression, participation of children in designing and implementing programmes for themselves. The several year's efforts to compile a draft legislation for the investigation and prosecution of juvenile crimes until the adoption of the generalities of the legislation in the Islamic Parliament is another measure of Iran in new achievements such as the setting up of child and juvenile police to meet national and international standards.
The need for Children’s police
The New Islamic Criminal Code which was approved by the parliament in mid-March of 2013, is a law that according to many experts will remove many the existing vacuums in the Criminal Code (Article 570 and 230 of the Islamic Criminal Code have clauses which were ratified in the 23 February 2014 meeting of the Parliamentary Judicial and Legal Commission in accordance with article 85 of the Constitution. This law was confirmed by the Guardian Council on 17 March the same year). One of the achievements of the new law is the formation of a special police unit for children and juveniles. In the new law, the criminal justice process for children, senior citizens and women have been noted and with the training of relevant judicial bailiffs, attempt has been made to approach these individuals with juvenile criminals or victims organized. In fact with the formation of this specialised police unit, with the observation of specific and legal principles, officers of the law and bailiffs will observe citizen’s rights in courts in a much better way. The children and juvenile police formation draft legislation has been prepared according to article 31 of New Islamic Criminal Code. The article states: “For the purpose of the good execution of the duties of bailiffs regarding children and juveniles, a special children and juveniles police unit is set up within the Police Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The duties and jurisdiction of this unit is based on the draft that is prepared by the Head of the Judiciary.” Currently children’s and juveniles police have been set up and are active in all gendarmeries and special police, and with the adoption of the executive guidelines of article 31 of the New Islamic Criminal Code the activities of this police unit will improve.
Today, court bailiffs are the executive arms of prosecutor’s offices and courts carrying out their duties, the law has set them many duties, which covers the first moment after a crime is committed until the final minutes of the implementation of punishment. These duties and jurisdictions indicate that individuals with particular and unique criteria must be in this position. In child and juvenile crime, the importance of having experts is multiplied, because in their prosecution process, there is a high possibility of violation of legal criteria. Therefore the existence and presence of a police unit that is trained how to deal with children and juveniles is a solution. It seems that due to important reasons such as the sensitivity of the child and juvenile group and their vulnerability, their immunisation from the damaging repercussions of the intervention of the criminal justice system and also prevention of future crimes, the setting up of specialised children and juveniles police unit is very important in the criminal justice system. To this aim, international enforceable documents stress on the existence of these police units, and have set specific regulations in this regard, subsequently the most developed countries have taken steps in setting up this unit.
The necessity for a suitable judicial process for children and the status of children’s police unit requires a practical and expertise workforce who knows how to face children who break the law or juvenile criminals and be aware of the occurrence of a crime or a dangerous situation, before other judicial authorities and carry out preliminary investigations as an effective supportive institution.
Children and juveniles police characteristics and their objectives
Criminologists’ studies show that the most important causes of child and juvenile crimes are mental, moral and emotional issues, and this results in their excessive sensitivity. Therefore, it is necessary for child and juvenile police to have particular and unique characteristics, because if a police officer whose duty is to approach children and juvenile law breakers, does not have the necessary expertise, the officer will not be successful when confronted with these children and cannot play his constructive role in protection and guidance of these individuals.
The main objective of this police unit is the creation of suitable conditions and opportunities for children who are deemed as criminals or offenders. According to the generalities of the children’s police draft legislation, some of the key characteristics that these officers of law must have are as follows:
- Be present in the accurate identification of the cause of crime, how children and juveniles take part in crime.
- Be present (women police in particular) in getting information and opening files for child and juvenile criminals and offenders.
- Create a calm and suitable environment for child and juvenile offenders in the arrest process in the police station.
- Present effective counselling and guidance to the families of victims of child and juvenile crimes or the criminals.
- Create a feeling of safety for children and juveniles, particularly when the child has been exposed to violence and is hurt.
- Identify children in dysfunctional families or abandoned children and referring them to their relatives or families who can take care of these children.
For the realisation of these conditions, a group of police officers and employees, women police in particular, will receive numerous and various trainings so that they have enough ability to deal with the child when in police station.
We must also consider that in addition to the police force, institutions such as education and training, Aid Committee, Welfare Organization and the governorship will participate in this project too.
The formation of such processes require the awareness and ability of many members of the police force. In fact, the effective function of child and juvenile police is dependent on the ability and awareness of an intertwined collective ranging from operations units to administrative teams in the headquarters of the police force. All police forces and units who are directly or indirectly dealing with children and juveniles must have necessary specialised abilities. Thus, the working agenda includes a study of the organizational, social and legal dimensions of the child and juvenile police publications, brainstorming on the issue, technical sittings and social studies.
Important reasons such as the characteristics of children and juveniles, their immunisation against the damaging repercussions of the intervention of the criminal justice system, and prevention of their future crimes, makes the existence of child and juvenile police units a necessity. The statistics of countries that have these special police units, show that the creation of these special police units, have notably been effective in the reduction of child and juvenile crimes. Therefore the existence of special police, easy and timely access and their training in confronting crimes with presentation of sociological, psychological and criminological teachings in police academies and stress on having sympathetic and prejudging behaviour towards children and juveniles are some of the important measures that are necessary in protection and support of children To-date, in the Iranian justice system, no specific law has foreseen the creation of child and juvenile police, but the aforementioned reasons and the international documents on protective measures for children, made the Islamic Republic of Iran to foresee child and juvenile police and fortunately today we see the consideration of these police units in the criminal justice guidelines draft legislation along with a plan to prepare a draft on juvenile crimes. Since January 2015 pilot studies have been launched and child and juvenile police units have been established in various parts of the Capital. We hope that in the Persian New Year (beginning on 21, March 2017) the final ratification stage is accomplished and these special police units expand in the country in an organized manner.
By: Nosaibeh Sadat Alavi
- Islamic Parliament’s laws and legislations regarding children’s rights and child and juvenile police – the new Criminal Justice Guidelines Act
- International laws and conventions on children’s rights, particularly the International Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Review of the Necessity for the Formation and Duties of Women Police for Children and Juveniles – Written by: Amir Malekzadeh and Hamid Hashemi – Research and Study Collective in the Field of Law
- The High Council for Human Rights
- Scientific and Practical Conference on Police and the Justice System for Children and Juveniles
- Status of Child and Juvenile Police in the Criminal Justice Process – Behzad Jahani and Parivash Poorshakibaee