The Asia-Pacific Council for Juvenile Justice organized its second training event in Thailand this week. The council is a network of institutions and experts within the field of juvenile justice that is coordinated by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory.
The event focused on regional experiences and best practices on three topics:
- prevention and responses to violence against children who are in conflict with the law
- diversion and alternative measures
- restorative justice for Children
We spoke to Datin Paduka Hajjah Intan bte Haji Mohd Kassim. She is the former head of the Anti- Corruption Bureau of Brunei Darussalam and is author of the chapter on the state of juvenile justice in Brunei Darussalam in RWI’s recent publication “A Measure of Last Resort? The Current Status of Juvenile Justice in ASEAN Member States.”
Since 2010, she has also been chairing the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).
Could you tell us about some of the achievements and challenges to juvenile justice in Brunei Darussalam?
We have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and there are some very good reformative initiatives. However, we are in the process of implementing sharia law in Brunei, and this might present some challenges for juvenile justice.
It is unclear how the Child and Young Persons Act will be harmonized with sharia law, especially as sharia law doesn’t have a minimum age of criminal responsibility but rather takes the maturity of the child in question as the determining factor. I hope we will be able to have a separate criminal justice system for children, and to continue to adopt restorative justice and diversion processes. Another challenge is that we need more trained personnel to properly implement restorative justice and diversion processes.
What has been the most interesting topic discussed at the conference?
For me, learning about the experiences of other countries in the region in implementing restorative justice mechanisms has been very valuable, with a lot of practical hands-on advice and lessons learned. We all need to develop better information, supported by good statistics, for the whole judicial process in order to show that restorative measures work to reduce recidivism and help children back on the right track in life.
How do you think the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC)can contribute to this?
I think the ACWC can play an increasingly active role in terms of policy-making and legal harmonization. In particular, the ACWC can promote a standardised approach to juvenile justice in ASEAN countries.