Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
GOVERNMENTAL ADMINISTRATION OF JUVENILE JUSTICE
Ministry of Social Development
The Palestinian juvenile justice is primarily assigned to the “Ministry of Social Development.” This implies that the issue of child delinquency is a matter of social concern rather than an issue of security and punishment. There are, however, some limited responsibilities on juvenile aspects to the Ministry of
Justice and Ministry of Interior, as part of their general mandate. While the former is in charge of the technical drafting of legislation, the latter directs the police and manages detention centers and prisons. Besides, the High Judicial Council plays a role with regard to juveniles as it is responsible for courts. The focus in this section is on the Ministry of Social Development and its policies to reform the juvenile justice system.
The mandate of the Ministry of Social Development over juveniles has been explicitly provided in the 2016 Juvenile Protection Law. The Minister is vested with the power to, inter alia, enact instructions and orders to execute the Law. Even when certain powers are given to the police, prosecutors, or courts, the Ministry would retain a central role. This role can be concluded from the Ministry’s responsibility over child protection officers, as its staff, and its management and supervision of juvenile social rehabilitation or medical treatment institutions, as we will see shortly.
The Ministry runs the affairs of juvenile justice through its Child Protection Unit, which acts as the central administration for child protection officers and manages the juvenile institutions. It coordinates with the police, prosecution, courts and prisons, relevant ministries, and civil society organizations. The Unit took its roots from the Jordanian juvenile system that was applicable in the West Bank between 1948 until 1967. While the Unit has been significantly developed in Jordan after the enactment of the Juvenile Justice Law in 1968, it remained intact under Israeli occupation. Due to the lack of resources and technical capacity, the Unit has been unable to improve its services when Palestinians took control over juvenile justice in 1994. With the adoption of the 2016 Law, it is hoped that the Unit will be strengthened, logistically and by appointing more qualified staff, to carry out its functions.
The Ministry has additional role to play. As mentioned previously, the Law gave the Ministry to establish a “Social Defense Department” attached to each juvenile court that incorporates sociopsychological specialists along with child protection offices in order to assist the court in its findings with regard to children brought before it.
We will elaborate on the role of child protection officers and social care institutions as the most significant features of the Ministry’s mandate in relation to juvenile justice.
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