Protection of Children and Handicapped Persons PDF Print E-mail

 

Protection of children may be approached in two basic ways:

- child and juvenile as perpetrator of criminal offense

- child as the aggrieved person (victim) of criminal offense 

 

In both cases they are provided with special statutory protection.

 

Child as a perpetrator of criminal act

 

Child under the age of 15

 

A child is a person who has not reached 15 years of age at the time of commission of the crime. A child under the age of 15 is not criminally liable, i.e. may not be prosecuted for commission of a criminal offense, the committed act is thus referred to as an act otherwise criminal.

  

However, if a child commits an act otherwise criminal, the juvenile court will adopt appropriate measures according to the Juvenile Justice Act that are necessary for his correction (educative obligations, educative restriction, reprimand with a warning, placement into a therapeutic, psychological or another appropriate educational program in a educative care facility, supervision of a probation officer, protective care and protective treatment).

 

In proceedings conducted against children under the age of 15, who allegedly committed an act otherwise criminal, the juvenile court will proceed according to special legislation regulating civil-law proceedings, because children under 15 years of age are not criminally liable and criminal proceedings may not be conducted against them.

  

In such proceedings the child must have a guardian. The juvenile court will appoint an attorney as a guardian of the child. 

 

A participant of the proceedings besides the child will also be the competent authority of social and legal protection of children, statutory representatives of the child, persons, to whose care the child has been entrusted (foster parents), as well as other persons, whose rights and obligations may be affected by the proceedings (e.g. grandparents taking care of the child). In case the Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed an incentive for initiation of the proceedings, it will also participate in the proceedings.

 

IN the course of proceedings it is necessary to protect privacy of the child in the same extent, as in case of a juvenile, and the regulation of disclosure of the outcome of proceedings on imposing measures against the child in public media.

 

Juveniles

 

Juvenile is a person, who has reached 15th year, but has not attained 18th year of age at the time of commission of the transgression. A juvenile is criminally liable. Criminal liability of a juvenile begins by committing a transgression on the day following the day he has attained 15 years of age and ends on the day he reaches 18 years of age. A criminal act committed by a juvenile is called a transgression.

 

Criminal liability of a juvenile for a transgression and measures to be imposed are stipulated by the Act no. 218/2003 Coll. the Juvenile Justice Act.

 

For his transgression, a juvenile may be imposed only the following measures:

- educative (supervision of probation officer, probation program, educative obligations, educative restrictions and reprimand with a warning)

- protective measure (protective treatment, security detention, forfeiture of assets or other asset values and protective care)

- penal (community service, financial measure, conditionally suspended financial measure, forfeiture of assets or other asset values, prohibition of a certain activity, banishment, house confinement, prohibition to enter sport, cultural and other social events, suspended sentence of imprisonment, suspended sentence of imprisonment with supervision, unsuspended sentence of imprisonment)

 

Measures (educative, protective and penal) imposed according to the Juvenile Justice Act must take into account the personality of the juvenile, his age and cognitive and moral maturity, medical condition, as well as his personal, family and social relations, and must be adequate to the nature and seriousness of the committed act.

 

Procedure in juvenile cases is also provided for in the Juvenile Justice Act.

 

In criminal proceedings in juvenile cases all participating persons must comply with the rules of protection of personal data of juveniles, i.e. only such information that cannot reveal the identity of the juvenile may be disclosed. All participating persons, i.e. Police authorities, Public Prosecutor, Judge, officers of Probation and Mediation Service or social workers must have special training in handling juveniles. Criminal cases of juveniles are tried by juvenile courts. In practice this does not mean there are some new special judicial bodies, but criminal cases of juveniles are dealt with by specialized judges of general courts.

 

Child as the aggrieved person (victim) and witness of crime

 

Criminal Procedure Code contains provisions related to a specific group of aggrieved persons or witnesses, in relation to which it requires a specific approach.

 

Interview of a person under the age of 15

 

Age and mental maturity of persons under the age of 15 requires a differentiated approach and special knowledge for their interviewing, especially if these persons are being interviewed in a situation, where they are at the same time aggrieved persons (in particular concerning some criminal offenses against freedom and human dignity).

 

Criminal Procedure Code stipulates divergences of interviews of persons under the age of 18 in case they are being interviewed on circumstances, bringing of which to live memory could adversely affect their mental and moral development. The interview must be conducted in especially considerate manner and with such content that the interview was not necessary to be repeated in subsequent proceedings.

 

A pedagogic worker or another person having experience with education of juveniles, who would contribute to suitable manner of conducting the interview with regard to the subject of the interview and the level of mental development of the person being interviewed, will be invited to attend the interview. If it can facilitate due conducting the interview, also the parents may be invited to attend the interview.

 

Presence of parents of the interviewed person under the age of 18 is only facultative and cannot substitute the necessity of attendance of pedagogic worker or another person referred to above. On the other hand, presence of one or both parents is excluded incase the parents are in the position of witnesses, aggrieved persons or even if they could be subject to criminal prosecution in the case in question. The same applies in case the presence of the parents could affect the ability or willingness to testify the truth in the juvenile.

 

Interview of a person under the age of 18 must be conducted in such a way that it was not necessary to repeat the interview in subsequent proceedings. The interview is generally conducted in pre-trial proceedings and should not be repeated in further stages of proceedings, unless absolutely necessary.

 

The special attention the Criminal Procedure Code pays to interviewing persons under the age of 18 is further projected to other provisions of Criminal Procedure Code (e.g. in case an underage person is required to provide an explanation, his statutory representative must be notified thereof; this does not apply, if the action cannot be delayed and the notification cannot be secured).

 

Protection of personal data and privacy of persons under the age of 18

 

The Criminal Procedure Code stipulates that nobody may in any way disclose information enabling identification of the aggrieved person in relation to a criminal act committed on the aggrieved person under the age of 18. The same protection is granted also to an aggrieved person older than 18 years, if he was subject to a criminal offense of solicitation or distribution of pornography or any of the crimes against life and health, freedom and human dignity or against family and juveniles.

 

Disclosure video and audio records or other information on the course of main trial or public session that could enable identification of such aggrieved person is prohibited. Final and effective judgment must not be published in media with the name, surname and address of such aggrieved persons.

 

Information subject to the prohibition of disclosure may be disclosed in the necessary extent for the purposes of searching for persons, in order to reach the purpose of criminal proceedings and also in case the public interest requires it, if it prevails over the right for protection of privacy of the person concerned, or if the person concerned by the prohibition of disclosure granted his consent with the disclosure.

 

If the person died or was declared dead, the person competent to grant consent with disclosure of information is his spouse, partner or child, and if there are no such persons, than parents, and in case of a person under the age of 18 or a person, whose legal capacity has been restricted, his statutory representative. The consent with disclosure of information cannot be granted by a person, who is the perpetrator of a crime committed against the person, who died or was declared dead.

 

Failing to observe these provisions may be sanctioned as an administrative wrong with financial penalty of up to 1.000.000,- CZK, or 5.000.000,- CZK (commission by press, film, radio, publically accessible computer network or other similarly effective manner) or even as a criminal offense of illicit disposal of personal data (in case a serious harm was inflicted to the rights or rightful interests of the person concerned by the data).

 

 
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