l Usha Drukpa, Thimphu
To house the children who come into conflicts with law, a child-friendly pre-trial detention centre was inaugurated on October 24, 2017, at Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) headquarter.
The Director of Save the Children, Bhutan, M.B Ghalley, said that it is of paramount importance to establish one in Thimphu.
“We must never hole up young children who have violated the law with those dreaded criminals. There is always a risk of their minds being swayed toward crimes. It is natural that when they come into contact with those hardcore criminals, they will learn many criminal tricks and rather than mending their ways, they will grow up to become criminals,” he said.
He mentioned that the law also clearly specifies that children should not be put in a cell with other criminals.
The Chief of Police, Colonel Chimi Dorji, said that ‘assault and battery’ cases top the crime list at the moment. “And it is mostly the young children who get involved in this crime. In the absence of a centre for juveniles, we had to detent them with other criminals, but now it is a huge respite for us to get this pre-trial centre,” he said.
In 2007 with the assistance from Save the Children and UNICEF, RBP could kick-start the construction of the first Women and Children Protection Division office in Thimphu.
“Since then, we made a big headway in the treating women and children. The two donors have been instrumental in spearheading this women and child protection desk in the country,” said the Chief of Police.
Talking about the present crime rate, the Chief said that in last few years, it had soared by manifolds and the reason, he said, could be because of influx of young children in the urban places.
“We were caught off guard as our detention rooms got over crowed. Though law demanded that we provide separate detention rooms for women and children, the police could not provide. At that critical stage, save the children once again stepped in to provide us the most needed detention for women and children,” said Chief of Police.
Meanwhile, the total cost incurred on the construction of the pre-trial centre was Nu. 6.5 million, and it was funded by save the children. The center is expected to give children the required privacy and also contribute towards fulfilling the legal mandates of looking into the best interest of the child.
The Royal Court of Justice in Thimphu for the first time has established a Family and Child Bench in September. They have also developed the diversion guidelines through Office of Attorney General (OAG).
As the outcome of the donors’ support and in collaboration with Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), in 2016, the RBP was able to establish one pre-trail detention center in Phuentsholing and one girls’ hostel at Youth Development Rehabilitation Centre (YDRC), Tsimasham, Chukha.