PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has established its first Child Protection Court (CPC) to shield children from maltreatment, abuse and neglect.
Children's rights activists, lawyers and civil-society members welcomed the initiative. They expressed hope that the CPC will protect children from any potential mental and physical abuse, while providing them with a child-friendly and calm atmosphere during trial proceedings.
Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth inaugurated the court on March 15 at Judicial Complex Peshawar.
"The initiative of establishing the CPC was taken under the KP Child Protection and Welfare Commission Act 2010," Muhammad Zubair, a protocol officer of the PHC, told Pakistan Forward.
The main objective of the CPC is to handle issues related to child protection and welfare, particularly legal custody cases of destitute and neglected children, Zubair said.
Many believe that abused and neglected children have a higher susceptibility to recruiters from extremists groups and violent criminal gangs, among other possible negative outcomes of the ill treatment.
Relief for juveniles
"It's a good initiative, and it will provide relief to juvenile detainees through speedy trials of their cases," Akhtar Amin, a Peshawar-based court reporter, told Pakistan Forward.
Juvenile detainees face many difficulties because they often appear in courts with habitual adult criminals, said Amin.
In addition, juvenile cases also face delays in judgments due to heavy court workloads, he added.
In the court's first case on April 1, Judge Wadya Mushtaq Malik heard a request from a 13-year-old, whose identity could not be disclosed because of legal restrictions, for sentencing. The juvenile promised to commit no more crimes.
The judge handed down a sentence of six days as the juvenile had already spent a year in detention after his arrest, Amin said.
"The establishment of the CPC is a step towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relating to equality, child protection and empowerment," Imran Takkar, a children's-rights activist, told Pakistan Forward.