According to Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, Ionas Nicolaou of DISY, it has been seven years since he submitted a proposal for discussion, which lays out the actions that need to be taken with relation to underage offenders.
However, despite a large number of discussions, the state has failed to return with a specific bill. So the Committee has decided to draft a report of the proposal and submit it for approval, as it is.
“I submitted a law proposal in 2002 to regulate laws surrounding teenage delinquents, which was discussed on a number of occasions, in the presence of various bodies, such as the Attorney-general and Child Commissioner, so a bill could be prepared,” Nicolaou said. “Unfortunately, even though at least six years have gone by, nothing has been prepared.”
With the recent increase in juvenile delinquency regulating the law was vital, he said.
“There are currently no programmes to help deal with delinquent youths,” said Nicolaou. So the Committee has decided to take into consideration the views it has heard so far, before preparing a draft law to submit to the plenum.
In the draft deputies request the creation of separate independent courtrooms to deal with underage lawbreakers. “Such cases need a child-centered approach, not the punishing approach that exists today,” said Nicolaou.
Currently there is a committee that examines cases involving delinquent youths, which is currently inactive. This committee decides whether a teen should be sent to court for trial or whether they are let off.
According to the Committee Chairman, the proposed law does not suggest the creation of remand homes for underage children, just precautionary measures and specifications on how youth offenses should be handled.
“Locking young delinquents up, is not our aim,” Nicolaou said. “This programme generally deals with delinquency among youths, up until the age of 18.”
There were recently four incidents where underage teens were imprisoned for various offenses.
By Jacqueline Theodoulou, Cyprus Mail, February 27, 2009