SHRC seeks updates on Remand Homes for juveniles

Sindh's jails house 385 juvenile offenders, 106 of them are under the age of 16

Design: Ibrahim Yahya

KARACHI: The Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has cast a glaring spotlight on the troubling neglect of laws intended to protect the most vulnerable section of the society – children.

The commission has raised concerns, directing its inquiry towards the establishment of Remand Homes. These sanctuaries are sanctified spaces, providing shelter to minors who find themselves facing charges. It is a shift towards compassion, replacing the cold bars of confinement with an atmosphere of custody, care, protection, observation, and treatment.

The SHRC’s inquiries, dispatched to the Sindh Home Department, serve as a clarion call, underscoring the significance of upholding the Sindh Child Act of 1955. This law defines a child as someone under the age of 16, triggering a mandate to erect Remand Homes that stand as bastions of safety and guardianship.

In a formal letter to the home secretary, Iqbal Detho, Chairperson of the SHRC, invoked his commission’s mantle as a guardian of laws and policies, entrusted with the task of safeguarding the sanctity of human rights across the province.

The letter seeks updates on the count of operational Remand Homes within Sindh. Behind-the-scenes whispers reveal a stark truth: since the enactment of the legislation, a solitary Remand Home has taken root within Karachi’s urban sprawl. This leaves a void in the system, with minor children, burdened by charges, relegated to jails instead of compassionate shelters.

The letter voiced concerns, weaving a narrative where 385 juvenile offenders occupy the fringes of justice. Among them, 106 are tender souls under the age of 16, while another 100 are under 18. They remain confined in Sindh’s prisons. The clarion call resonates with an appeal for a recalibration of perspective, driven by the acute awareness of their tender age.

The letter champions a restorative approach, rallying for an environment that facilitates their reintegration into society.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2023.

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