Manual titled “Living conditions in Institutions for Children in conflict with Law” released by WCD Ministry

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed a manual titled “Living conditions in Institutions for Children in conflict with Law” as per the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 05.02.16, in the matter of Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons In re, (2016) 3 SCC 700,  in which the Apex Court had directed the Ministry of WCD to prepare a manual similar to the Model Prison Manual as being prepared by Ministry of Home Affairs that will take into consideration the living conditions and other issues pertaining to juveniles who are in Observation Homes or Special Homes or Places of Safety in terms of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

The objective of preparing such a Manual for children in conflict with law is to provide guidelines to the States/UTs and other stakeholders which will help them to establish institutions for children in conflict with law and providing appropriate institutional and rehabilitative services to them. The Manual has been framed within the purview of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016. The Manual puts in one place all aspects of the living conditions and other issues pertaining to children in conflict with law who are in Observation Homes, Special Homes and Place of Safety. It also lays down the processes to be followed by all concerned stakeholders while providing services to children. The Manual shall enable all duty bearers in Observation Homes, Special Homes and Place of Safety to appreciate the importance of their role and contribute positively and proactively in the rehabilitation of children in conflict with law living in these institutions.

This Manual (which is an outcome of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in a matter relating to inhuman conditions in prisons) puts in one place all aspects of the living conditions and other issues pertaining to Children in Conflict with Law (CCL) who are in Special Homes, Observation Homes and Place of Safety. It also lays down the processes to be followed by all concerned stakeholders, so that that they will appreciate the importance of their role and contribute positively and proactively in the rehabilitation of the concerned children. The Manual stipulates that institutionalization of children when necessary should be in their best interest, and aimed at educating, rehabilitating and preparing children for their re-integration into the society upon release.

The Manual lays down certain protection norms for Child Care Institutions (CCIs), such as every CCI shall have a ‘Child Protection Policy’ (CPP), the CPP should include a zero tolerance policy towards corporal punishment and child abuse, etc. It also talks about elements of a CPP viz. Human Resources and Infrastructure. All employees would face a standardized recruitment process to assess the candidate’s attitude and sensibilities regarding child protection. The staff of a CCI shall be trained and sensitized of what constitutes abuse, neglect and maltreatment, and how to respond in such situations. Coming to Infrastructure, the Manual ensures children’s safety in CCI. It states that all spaces within the CCI shall be well lit and ventilated, and accessible to children. Every CCI shall be equipped with a First Aid Kit and a Complaints/Suggestions Box for children to voice their concerns anonymously. An extensive Code of Conduct has been laid down for all staff, employees, duty bearers, etc. providing certain DOs (encourage children’s voices and views, be inclusive, tackle peer abuse, being acquainted with laws, rules and guidelines related to child protection, etc.) and DON’Ts (kiss, hug, fondle or rub a child inappropriately, sleep alone with any child, use corporal punishment, threaten a child, use abusive language, etc).

After underlining the importance of Child Participation in Institutional Care Settings, the Manual sets forth the approach and beliefs that care-givers must imbibe to facilitate meaningful Child Participation. The care-givers must not equate a CCI as a prison for children. They must believe that children’s participation in CCI has potential to positively impact rehabilitation of children. They should create an environment in which children feel safe and secure. They must accumulate and maintain records of children’s participation in these institutions. Spaces to encourage and facilitate children’s participation in individual and group interactions, and monitoring of children’s participation has also been included.

The next part talks about infrastructure and physical facilities in the CCI including its location, area and capacity. It provides that every CCI shall have adequate bathing, laundry and toilet facilities. There must be a kitchen equipped with a fridge, oven and chimney, a store room with almirahs and shelves, a common dining room, study/class rooms with computers and internet facilities, a library and audio-visual room, indoor and outdoor recreation spaces, a sickroom/medical room, counselling and guidance room. The Manual also lays measures to ensure sanitation and hygiene in CCIs. It incorporates roles and responsibilities of the Superintendent/Person-in-charge of the CCI. He/she needs to ensure that the institution provides a nurturing environment in which children receive care to ensure their rehabilitation. He/she needs to ensure that children receive formal education and vocational training, all health care facilities are available, and daily routine (for meals, education, physical exercise, yoga, play time, etc) is followed.

Engaging children systematically in matters related to them so as to gain their insights, feedback, and elicit their help in running the CCI, the following committees of children should be formed: Food Committee, Cultural Committee, Campus Maintenance, Hygiene and Sanitation Committee, Games, Sports and Recreation Committee, Literary Committee, Behavior and Conduct Committee. The next part of the Manual deals with ‘Place of Safety’ which is meant for certain specified categories of CCL. The Place of Safety will emphasize on promoting the well being of the child by formulating individual care plans, providing educational services, skill development, counselling, behavior modification therapy and psychiatric support etc. for rehabilitation of the child, ensuring that child is safe and mechanisms such as suggestion box, children’s committee, etc. are in place. The Manual then talks about the importance and manner of monitoring and inspection of CCI. It mandates the functioning of a Managing Committee in every CCI which shall be responsible for monitoring and tracking the process of every child in the institution. It also states that the State Government shall appoint inspection and management committees for all CCIs.

For the Manual on Living conditions in Institutions for Children in conflict with Law, click here

Ministry of Women and Child Development

 

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