UNICEF Representative in Dhaka Tomoo Hozumi on Thursday in a statement commended the recent release of 345 children from detention centres in Bangladesh by virtual courts.
This marks an important step for children’s access to justice in Bangladesh and places the protection, safety and best interests of children first.
“The Bangladesh Supreme Court established the use of virtual courts in May 2020 with support from UNICEF. Since then, over 1,400 children have been released from detention centres thanks to virtual courts. Less than 0.5 per cent of these children have reoffended following their release," the UNICEF Bangladesh chief said.
“Detention takes a heavy toll on children’s mental and physical health so unnecessary institutionalization must be avoided. UNICEF calls for the introduction of non-custodial solutions for children who are victims, witnesses or accused of crimes.
“All children who can safely return to their families or appropriate alternative care should be released from detention centres. This is particularly important during the current pandemic lockdown when centre staffing is limited and children face heightened risk of infection, neglect and abuse in the overcrowded detention centres.
“Bangladesh has demonstrated strong leadership during the pandemic by embracing judicial reforms for the benefit of children and their rights. We must continue to build on this momentum by expediting child-related cases which are pending in the justice system and keeping thousands of children in detention.
“UNICEF lends its full support to the Government of Bangladesh, the Supreme Court Special Committee on Child Rights, and the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to improve children’s access to justice. By strengthening the application of the Children’s Act 2013, we can prevent child detention in Bangladesh, including at the police level.”