Youth Arrest Cases
The primary aim of the Youth Courts in dealing with young offenders is to rehabilitate, reform and reintegrate them back into society, while balancing the need for protection of the public and the right of the victim to see that justice has been done.
Currently, under the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA), young offenders below 16 years old are charged in the Youth Courts, unless charged with offences triable only by the High Court or are jointly charged with an adult offender.
Special rules apply so that a young offender charged in the Youth Courts is not labelled a criminal, is not exposed to adult criminals and is shielded from the full glare of publicity. For example, words like ‘found guilty’ and ‘orders’ are used instead of ‘conviction’ or ‘sentence’. Young offenders charged in the Youth Courts are also separate from adult accused persons from the point of arrest up to trial. It is also prohibited to publish any information relating to the proceedings that may lead to their identification.
Once a young offender is found guilty of the charge, the Court may call for a probation report which is prepared by a Probation Officer from MSF. The Court will then sit with two Panel Advisors, Court Family Specialists and the Probation Officer for a discussion of the case before deciding on the appropriate orders. In appropriate cases, a Family Conference facilitated by a Court Family Specialists may be held to sort out relationship issues before the appropriate orders are finally decided upon.
The Youth Courts are empowered with the following options to deal with a youth offender upon a finding of guilt under Section 44 of the CYPA:
- To discharge the offender;
- To discharge the offender upon his entering into a bond to be of good behaviour and to comply with such order as may be imposed;
- To commit the offender to the care of a relative or other fit person for a period to be specified by the Court;
- To order his parent or guardian to enter into a bond to exercise proper care and guardianship and to abide by such order as the Court may make in relation to the welfare, maintenance and rehabilitation of the offender;
- To make a probation order requiring the offender to be under the supervision of a probation officer or a volunteer probation officer for a period of not less than six months and not more than three years;
- To make an order, in accordance with the prescribed requirements, requiring the offender to perform community service, not exceeding 240 hours in aggregate, of such nature and at such time and place and subject to such conditions as may be specified by the Court;
- To order the offender to be detained in a place of detention for a period not exceeding six months;
- To order the offender to be detained in a place of detention or an approved institution over such number of weekends, not exceeding 26, as the Court thinks fit;
- To order the offender to be sent to a juvenile rehabilitation centre for a period of not more than three (3) years;
- To order the offender to pay a fine, damages or costs;
- To order the offender to be brought before a District Court to be dealt with or deal with the offender under section 305 of the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 if the offender:
- Has attained the age of 16 years; or
- Having attained the age of 14 years but being below the age of 16 years, has previously been dealt with by a Court in connection with another offence and had, in respect of that other offence, been ordered to be sent to a juvenile rehabilitation centre,
and the Youth Courts are satisfied that it is expedient with a view to his reformation that he should undergo a period of training in a reformative training centre.
The Youth Courts may also make an order requiring both the offender and his/her parents or guardians to undergo such counselling, psychotherapy or other programmes or to partake in such activity as the Court may think necessary for the purpose of:
- Resolving any relationship problems between the offender and the parent or guardian;
- Rehabilitating or assisting in the rehabilitation of the offender;
- Enabling the parent or guardian to manage the offender; or
- Enhancing, promoting or protecting the physical, social and emotional well-being and safety of the offender.
For such Mandatory Counselling orders – A bond may be executed by parents/guardians to ensure their compliance with such an order. Failure to comply with the order would mean a forfeiture of the bond as well as a fine of up to $2000.
Each of the above accompanying orders can also be made singly, without combining with any other orders, or in combination with one or more accompanying orders.
If the youth breaches the orders (i.e. breaks the rules of probation or residential centre), the order made may be changed or varied at the discretion of the Court. The youth may:
- Have probation extended;
- Be required to reside in a voluntary welfare organisation or juvenile rehabilitation centre;
- Be transferred to and detained in a juvenile rehabilitation centre (probation revoked);
- Be sentenced to Reformative Training under the Criminal Procedure Code; or
- Any other orders as specified above.