GMA Signs Juvenile Justice Act; RA 9344 Upholds Rights of Youth Offenders

Article excerpt

Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING

Juvenile welfare council created under DoJ

President Arroyo has signed a landmark law that prohibits the detention of youth offenders in jails in the company of hardened adult criminals.

The President signed Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 last April 28 without formal ceremonies before the 30-day prescription period lapsed.

Under the law, children 15 years old and below would be exempted from criminal liability while youth offenders aged 15 to 18 years old could only be criminally charged if they committed the crime with discernment.

It also provides the immediate turnover of children in conflict with the law to social workers upon apprehension.

If detention is necessary, the youth offenders would be transferred to youth detention homes set up by local governments and non-government organizations.

The law also created the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC) under the Department of Justice (DoJ) that would oversee its implementation and advise the President regarding the protection of youth offenders.

With a DoJ undersecretary as head, the JJWC would be composed of representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Council for the Welfare of Children, Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government, Commission on Human Rights, National Youth Commission, and two representatives from the private sector. …