G. Protection of privacy
143.Children come into contact with the law for a variety of reasons and are susceptible to victimisation by the legal process and its enforcement agencies. This happens more frequently in case of street children.
144.The Children Act, 1974 and The Children Rules, 1976 have been enacted and made for the protection of children who come into contact with the law as well as to protect other children. Some provisions of the Act are totally in line with CRC and International standard on juvenile justice, but some are not. The Vagrancy Act, 1943 is intended to be used for the benefits of the street children. However, there have been allegations that homeless and street children, instead of being protected, are rounded up by the police and detained with adult criminals. The practice of taking vagrant and street children into custody essentially criminalises impoverished and vulnerable children. The Government is in the process of reviewing the Vagrancy Act, 1943 and the Children Act, 1974 for possible amendments, which will make it more progressive and effective for the children.
145.Child witnesses to crime experience several vulnerabilities, including intense and unsupervised interrogation by the police. A judge or magistrate may also place women and children victims to protective custody, in a jail or state institution. This power is often exercised with children who have been arrested as “vagrants”, rape and sexual assault victims, those rescued from brothels and traffickers, abandoned children, or those who have eloped.
146.The legal age of criminal responsibility is a major problem in the administration of juvenile justice. The CRC and the Beijing Rules require states to establish a minimum age, below which children cannot be held criminally responsible. In Bangladesh, the minimum age has is now only nine years. The absence of appropriate and effective birth registration system also presents problems in proving a child’s age, which limits efforts to ensure their protection and enforce their rights. It is recognized that law enforcement and legislative authorities will require becoming more child-friendly.
147.CRC requires State Parties to guarantee the right to privacy of children and to prosecute those who violate this right. While this right is for all children, it is particularly important for children who are vulnerable, such as children involved with the law. In Bangladesh, though reduced over the years through government initiatives and NGO advocacy programmes, however, at times there are media reports with address and photograph of the child victims.
H. Access to appropriate information
148.In the NPA, 2005-2010, one of the important cross-cutting themes is “providing children with the information and skills they need to make informed choices on their well-being and development”. This would “ensure that children have access to information and skills development opportunities inside and outside of school”. Not only there are a shortage of appropriate information, the access to information is generally low in the country, significantly low to the poorer and marginalized people, children in particular. However, some progress has been achieved in the recent years following implementation of a host of activities/programmes.