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President ratifies landmark child protection laws

A new juvenile justice law also comes into force.



President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Wednesday ratified a new juvenile justice bill and amendments brought to the child rights protection law.

Aside from making vaccination mandatory, the reconstituted Child Rights Protection Act raises the legal age of consent for marriage to 18 years and protects children below 15 years of age from all regular judicial punishments.

The updated law “seeks to reduce disparities between the previous law and international child protection laws and standards,” according to the president’s office. The ratification date coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It also includes new provisions to protect children from discrimination, bias, harm, cruel punishment, neglect and physical and emotional abuse, and to ensure the right to education and health care, as well as special provisions to protect the rights of children with special needs.

The law mandates the creation of a Child Rights Protection Council, Child and Family Protection Service and the appointment of a Children’s Ombudsperson.

The Juvenile Justice Act requires the creation of a Department of Juvenile Justice; a specialised police department to address juvenile delinquencies; designated State Prosecutors for children; a particular unit of probation and correctional officers; a juvenile diversion programme; rehabilitation programmes; and residential facilities and correctional centres.

The law seeks to prescribe “a swift resolution to allow reforming juvenile delinquents into productive members of society through rehabilitative facilities,” the president’s office said.