2,500 juvenile cases since the start of the "Corona" crisis


2,500 juvenile cases since the start of the "Corona" crisis

August 23, 2020

AMMAN - The number of juvenile cases (criminal and violation of defence orders) committed since the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis “COVID 19” until the middle of this month reached 2511 cases, of which 597 were settled and 1914 to be put on trial, according to figures presented by the Director of the Juvenile Police Department, Colonel Bilal Al-Awamleh, during a specialized symposium organized by the National Council for Family Affairs on the handling of juvenile cases under the defence law.

Awamleh indicated that: “The percentage of cases violating the defence law reached 66.7%, and the number of juveniles who violated the defence law amounted to 1882, accounting for 54.6% of the total number of cases committed during the same period.”

He pointed out that the high rate of defence law violations by juveniles can be attributed to a number of reasons, most notably: boredom due to staying too much at home, the desire to play outdoors, violating lockdown with the aim of begging, insufficient knowledge of parents about the actions undertaken as a result of curfew violation and poor supervision over their children, whether males or females.

Al-Awamela also discussed the impact of the lockdown on juveniles; most importantly, having too much time on their hands with no social contact causing them to feel bored and consequently be subjected to psychological pressure that affected their behaviour.

However, Awamleh stressed on the other hand the decline in the number of cases committed by juveniles when compared to the same period last year, as the number was 2,469 cases; there was also a significant decrease in criminal cases, as 1819 cases were settled, accounting for 73.7% of the total cases.

Al-Awamela indicated that the total number of settable cases during the current year reached 602 cases, of which 597 were settled, at a percentage of 99.2%.

He also addressed the issue of children and juveniles who have lost or left education due to quarantine, as they are at increased risk of neglect, abandonment, violence and exploitation.

For her part, the head of the Amman Juvenile Court, Judge Iman Al-Qatarneh, spoke about the management of juvenile cases during lockdown and the mechanisms of arrest and settlement, explaining that coordination has been made with judges to give priority to the consideration of cases in which there are detainees in rehabilitation and correction centres and homes in a bid to limit the number of detainees in these places.

Qatarneh noted that detainees who have been arrested in all misdemeanours and a few criminal cases associated with the forfeiture of personal rights such as thefts have been released on bail; juveniles at the Care and Rehabilitation of Beggars Centres were all released based on the reports of the behavioural monitor; in addition, cases of juveniles in need of protection and care were all considered and were handed over to their guardians.

As for the measures taken by the Ministry of Social Development in the juvenile care and rehabilitation homes, the Director of Social Defence at the Ministry, Mahmoud Al Harout, stated that videoconference rooms have been prepared in the homes to enable juveniles to communicate audio/visually with their families under strict supervision.

According to Al-Hrout, the number of juveniles entering the homes during the lockdown reached 116, while the number of those released reached 183.

For her part, head of Legislation Development Unit at NCFA, Naila Al-Sarayreh, said that the symposium aims to shed light on the punitive approach under the defence orders, and to discuss procedures related to litigation, e-learning, self-quarantine, social distancing and safety measures.

She expressed her hope to agree on recommendations that guarantee the protection and the best interests of the juveniles, stressing the importance of raising awareness about emergency response and the lessons learnt from the COVID 19 handling experience, and investing the capabilities and potentials of institutions in developing mechanisms for dealing with juveniles.