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Friday, February 6, 2015
Delhi Rape Victim’s Family Says Exemption of Death Penalty Weakens Juvenile Justice Bill
5:33 pm IST
Aug 8, 2014
By SAURABH CHATURVEDI and ADITI MALHOTRA
The parents of the young woman who was raped and murdered on a moving bus in India’s capital in 2012 applauded efforts by India’s new government to change the juvenile-justice law so that youthful offenders accused of serious crimes can be tried as adults.
“Minors accused of such crimes should not go scot-free,” said the father of the 23-year-old victim in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Under Indian laws meant to protect the identity of rape victims, he cannot be identified.
A bill approved by India’s cabinet on Wednesday proposes that children between 16 and 18 years of age who are accused of crimes such as rape, murder and acid attack can be tried in adult courts. Under the legislation, teenage convicts could not be sentenced to death or life in prison.
The father of the victim, who has in the past made repeated calls for the death penalty for all the convicted perpetrators in the rape and murder of his daughter, said exempting younger offenders from the death penalty was a mistake in the bill.
“I am all for it (death penalty) to make the draft law even stronger,” he said.
Juveniles who commit heinous crimes are “a burden on this world,” the victim’s father said. He said with a “stronger law” in place, he would “seek extension of the sentence of the juvenile” who was convicted in the rape of his daughter.
A 17-year-old found by a juvenile court to have participated in the December 2012 Delhi gang rape and killing was sentenced to three years of confinement in a reformatory, the maximum punishment allowed under the current law.
Four men convicted in the case were sentenced to death under a new law implemented in 2013 to strengthen penalties for crimes against women. A fifth alleged assailant died in jail during the trial. Authorities said he killed himself. His relatives alleged he was murdered.
In 2000, India raised the age of majority for men to 18 from 16 in accordance with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child.
Public support for harsher punishment for minors has grown since the Delhi gang rape, but human-rights activists and child-welfare experts have criticized the government’s backing for the proposed changes.
“Instead of hasty measures, the government should make a commitment to effective law enforcement and the more difficult and lengthy steps needed to reform the criminal justice system,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.
The number of minors found culpable in rape cases in India went up from 1,149 in 2011 to 1,175 in 2012, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
“They [the cabinet] have recognized that the amendments are a necessity given the increase in the number of crimes committed by juveniles,” said the victim’s father.
Follow Saurabh and Aditi on Twitter @journosaurabh @A4iti.
Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/08/08/delhi-rape-victims-family-says-exemption-of-death-penalty-weakens-juvenile-justice-bill/ [last accessed 06.02.2015]