Community service urged for juvenile offenders
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
BRUNEI’s courts should fully utilise legislative provisions to implement community service in lieu of detention for juvenile offenders, stated a regional report on juvenile justice in ASEAN.
The study, titled A Measure of Last Resort: The Current Status of Juvenile Justice in ASEAN Member States, said the court “has not been dynamic and creative” in applying this provision for both adult and young offenders.
“(The Community Service Order) can be introduced as a condition of probation or as a standalone order… but in practice the court has not been applying this provision,” read the Brunei chapter of the report, which was authored by Datin Paduka Hjh Intan Hj Mohd Kassim.
Datin Paduka Hjh Intan is Brunei’s representative to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection on the Rights of Women and Children.
Outlining the main challenges to the juvenile justice system, she states that rehabilitation or “diversion” programmes need to be improved to empower young offenders.
“Brunei has a modern facility but lacking in services. The services in terms of programmes such as educational, skill development, youth building, etc are not sufficiently provided,” she said, adding there were few personnel trained in specifically handling juvenile offenders.
“There is a lack of trained officials in the area of counselling, rehabilitation and even in the judiciary… the Brunei Chief Justice expressed his concern and stated that there was a need for specialist judges and magistrates, as well as social workers and counsellors.”
She added that the Brunei Youth Development Centre – a skill development centre for youth who cannot achieve the grades for higher education – can be used as a platform for the vocational development of juvenile offenders.
The report – published by the Swedish-based Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law – also said there should be a centralised database covering issues relating to children.
“There is a need to strengthen existing mechanism of data collection and indicators disaggregated by gender, age and urban and rural areas.
“This covers all children up to the age of 18 years with specific emphasis on those who are particularly vulnerable and marginalised, including children with disabilities and youth at risk.”
In 2013, Brunei recorded 76 juvenile arrests. The majority of juvenile arrests were for house break-ins (23), followed by drug offences (19). There were also six arrests for alleged rape, six for assault, and five for car theft.
The Brunei Times