The Child Justice Alliance has published a report on the second year of implementation of the Child Justice Act (CJA). In terms of the CJA, the Ministers responsible for the Act must submit an annual implementation report. A report was duly submitted in June 2011. The Child Justice Alliance submitted a parallel report highlighting some of the key implementation challenges. Some of these have since been addressed, but a number of critical issues remain outstanding.
For instance, the Department of Justice has not yet commenced the process of research required by the CJA for a review of the minimum age of criminal capacity within five years of the Act coming into operation. A further issue is the decrease in the number of children being brought into the system created by the CJA and the attendant drop in the numbers of diversions.
The report considers the implications of these implementation failures under three thematic headings: diversion, sentencing, and the One Stop Child Justice Centre.
Diversion: The report reviews challenges experienced during the accreditation process and the impact of the decrease in the number of diversions since the implementation of the Act.
Sentencing: This section of the report considers international and national obligations in relation to the sentencing of children, the availability of child and youth care centres receiving sentenced children, the transfer of Reform Schools from the Department of Basic Education to the Department of Social Development, and case law on the reviewability of sentences of compulsory residence.
One Stop Child Justice Centre: The report deals with statutory regulation of the centres and challenges faced by the management of the centres.
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