Govt to amend children act, may lower age limit
Against the backdrop of multiple sensational crimes involving juveniles, the government decided to amend the children act and is considering whether to lower the age threshold that qualifies an individual as a juvenile.
The law ministry was asked to look into the legal matters as laws in Bangladesh and many other countries recognise individuals aged below 18 as children.
The decision was made yesterday in a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Law and Order at home ministry, attended by at least a dozen ministers and top officials of law enforcement agencies.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said, "Decisions have been made to amend the law. But no decision was made on the age limit."
Mozammel, who is the chief of the committee, said, "My personal opinion is that the age limit can be set at 14."
Teen gangs have mushroomed in the country, he said, adding that more young people were addicted to drugs than adults.
"A child cannot be sent to jail … By being children, many are getting away even after committing heinous crimes. But it has a negative impact on the country," he said.
Referring to the recent killing of a teacher in Ashulia, he said proper action could not be taken against the suspect, because he is a child as per the international and local law.
Initiatives have been taken to create a database of criminals, he said. "Instructions were given to update and complete it fast."
Asked why the juvenile corrections facilities were not being developed, he said, "The reality is, a child gets inclined to more criminal activities during their stay at a corrections centre. The same is true for criminals in jails."
The committee yesterday also discussed the public sufferings near toll plazas on Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga expressway.
The benefit of the Padma Bridge is being reduced, he said, adding that there would be long tailbacks on the expressway during Eid rush.
"We may not be able to do anything this Eid, but in the future, measures will be taken for automation of toll collection across the country. Payment will be made electronically, there will be no need to pay the toll manually."
He added that measures will be taken to set up the devices necessary in the quickest possible time. The other bridges will also have the facility.
"We've given emphasis on it. Besides, there were discussions at the meeting about the on-road cattle markets. Instructions were given to the law enforcement agencies not to allow any such market."
Law enforcers were asked to monitor and take steps against extortion on cattle-laden trucks and unlawful imposition of excessive tax on the buyers, said the minister.
Participants also said that Rohingyas were getting involved in criminal activities, but the government was not being able to take legal steps in the absence of an appropriate legal framework. There was discussion of how they could be brought to justice while in Bangladesh.