Juveniles under the age of 18 coming into contact with, or in conflict with the law is an issue of growing international concern. The issue of mistreatment of incarcerated juveniles was brought to the fore when a video was leaked depicting violent treatment of a youth in Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Australia as well as similar reports on Medway Youth Jail in UK. Apart from a lack of international consensus regarding how to grant them a fair trial as well as post-trial processes, increasing cries to reform the justice system has also focused on the abuse of incarcerated juveniles. Juvenile incarceration aside, the emotional duress of juveniles in custody and their access to legal support are equally important issues that have been left out of the spotlight.
Delegates of the Human Rights Council should explore the possibility of drafting international standards which enshrine the basic rights of juveniles in contact with the law. In addition, recommendations can be made for specific countries or blocs to strengthen the fairness and effectiveness of existing systems while respecting existing legal codes and political climates.
The high profile shooting of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in the United States in 2016 has brought the topic of police brutality to the spotlight. At the forefront of controversy was the racialized nature of the shooting, in this case about institutional racism against black Americans. Yet it is not only in the USA where such cases of alleged police brutality and negligence happen: countries such as Vietnam and China face similar allegations, but receive less attention from the international community. Common among such incidents is the theme of the police acting ‘above the law’, often violating legal protocol or even rules of engagement.
Key issues which stand in the way of fair treatment of individuals in contact with the law include: corruption, racism, excessive use of force, and the militarization of the police. The issue of police brutality is one that should be of utmost concern to governments as it constitutes an infringement on the rights of a citizen but also represents great negligence on the part of the government and its agencies. Delegates of the Human Rights Council should seek to mitigate the problems of police brutality through recommendations to existing legal, operational and social guidelines for police officers while keeping in mind the unique socio-ethnic contexts of individual countries.
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