Judicial Academy

Department of Judicial Administration

Symposium on Child Rights and the Juvenile Justice System

Program Overview

The Maldives took a significant step in protecting the rights of children and establishing a modern juvenile justice system in 1991, with the enactment of Law Number 9/91 (Law on Protection of Child Rights). Few years later, a Juvenile Court, in comport with this law, was established on the 01st of August 1997.  

During the two decades that followed, the Maldivian Juvenile Justice System has gradually improved, but we still have a lot to do. The legislative landscape on which the System rests is in need of strengthening. While comprehensive laws dealing with issues such as procedures and correctional system for young offenders are being called for by new circumstances, Law Number 9/91 itself needs to be revisited from the standpoint of a significantly changed, 21st century society. Laws regulating issues related to children and juvenile justice currently remain incoherent and sporadic, and are to be found through much work, in no less than 29 laws passed over a period of 25 years. There are issues and challenges with regard to implementation and enforcement of laws as well.  

To address these issues from a judicialcum-academic perspective, the Maldives Judicial Academy included a Judicial Symposium on Child Rights and the Juvenile Justice System in its Annual Program Plan 2017, identifying a number of momentous purposes:

  • help us identify where and how existing laws in the area can be improved; 
  • provide an opportunity for judges and other officials to share experience; 
  • create a platform which would empower us with thorough and comprehensive knowledge about the rights of children and best practices used in protecting them; 
  • call to attention the many challenges faced by courts and other institutions in the processes of juvenile justice; and, 
  • assist the government to formulate child protection and juvenile justice policies that are contemporary and in line with good norms and standards.  

The format of the program has been formulated to include two separate components: plenary sessions in which all the executive agencies and institutions working in the area of child rights and juvenile justice will participate along with the Judiciary, and a Training-of-Trainer Seminar for a selected group of judges and senior legal staff of the Judiciary. 

At the plenaries, a number of papers would be presented on key discussion areas, in addition to two important lectures by renowned international experts, Justice Mohamed Imman Ali from the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, and Professor Dr. Najibah Mohamed Zain from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. The plenaries would also feature Questions and Answer Sessions following the presentation of papers, and discussion syndicates where participants would discuss in groups the various issues presented in the papers. Every plenary would be led and moderated by a panel, chaired by one of the two international experts who participate in the vent. The panel would be selected from among the members of the Training-of-Trainer Seminar.  

The Training-of-Trainer Seminar included in the Symposium is designed with the view to prepare a pool of qualified trainers to provide further training in the area of child rights and juvenile justice in the Maldives. They will work with the Maldives Judicial Academy in the future in formulating and conducting induction and orientation programs and other types of in-house training in this key area of the judicial and legal sector. Participants would be instructed by the international experts from Bangladesh and Malaysia. 

Key outcomes of the Symposium have been identified as follows: 

  • Creating a platform for all participants to share knowledge, enrich their understanding of principles and best practice regarding child rights and juvenile justice; 
  • Composition of a Short-Term Action Plan to tackle in the legal and judicial system issues which need urgent and immediate attention, so as to enhance efforts to protect child rights and strengthen the juvenile justice system;
  • Preparation of a Special Report of the Panelists at the Judicial Symposium on Child Rights and Juvenile Justice, making recommendations for long-term action in order to enhance the juvenile justice system;
  • Training a selected group of judges and senior legal staff of the Judiciary to work as trainers in future programs on child rights and juvenile justice;   
  • Setting up a Working Group on Enhancing the Juvenile Justice System and Laws on the Rights of the Child Right.
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