News

All under 18 to be identified as children

  • NCPA submits proposals to Justice Ministry

By Buddhika Samaraweera

 

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has submitted to the Ministry of Justice a series of proposals, prepared by five subcommittees comprising experts, to amend a number of laws and regulations relating to child protection, including to set 18 years as the maximum age for the legal definition of a child.

When contacted by The Morning to inquire about this, NCPA Director of Planning and Information and sociologist Shanika Malalgoda said the age limits to recognise children as such are different under various laws that are currently in place, and that this has in turn given rise to certain issues. Accordingly, a proposal has been submitted to the Justice Ministry to remove the existing age limit-related anomalies and it is therefore expected to increase the age to 18 years.

She said the relevant subcommittees that were appointed in September 2020 have prepared five main proposals, including this, and that the relevant concept papers have already been submitted to the Justice Ministry.

Malalgoda also said the relevant committees have prepared a proposal for the establishment of a child-friendly court procedure, the relevant concept paper of which has also been submitted to the Justice Ministry.

“Often, children are reluctant to come to court out of fear. Therefore, we hope that those issues will be resolved through the establishment of a child-friendly court procedure,” she explained.

In addition, the relevant committees have proposed the formulation of a set of guidelines to be followed by the Police when carrying out investigations into incidents that involve children and a proposal has also been made to design an advanced procedure to record video evidence of children who are victims of child abuse or other related incidents.

Malalgoda further noted that in the future, relevant arrangements for the implementation of these proposals would be made mainly through the Justice Ministry. In addition, the Justice Ministry and the NCPA will be working together on some of the proposals, she said.

Attempts to contact Minister of Justice Ali Sabry and Ministry of Justice Secretary P.K. Mayadunne to inquire about the matter were unsuccessful.