With the inauguration of family and child bench at Thimphu District Court on June 28, access to child-friendly justice will be facilitated in child-related cases. The family and child bench has been functional and established since December last year.
The family and child bench has been established in line with the Convention on the Rights of Children and the Child care and Protection Act of Bhutan. Child care and Protection Act of Bhutan requires the court to provide the right care and protection to safeguard the rights of a child, either a victim or a child who is in conflict with law.
The family and child courtroom has a very conducive ambience.
The family and child bench Drangpon, Pasang Wangmo, said the bench is a first of its kind in the judicial history of Bhutan.
Drangpon Pasang Wangmo said that with the establishment of the family and child bench which is equipped with modern facilities, like CCTV camera, the judiciary aims speedy disposal of cases related to children and provide a child-friendly environment.
She also said that witness or victim will be allowed direct interaction with the judge, while the accused will be able to view and hear proceedings via two way video conferencing in the court room.
A two-way video communications system allows the child witness to identify the accused on camera. This also enables the judge to ask questions to the child and accused without any physical interface. The child will not be allowed to come face to face with the alleged offenders to make sure the child is not intimated while court proceedings are on.
The Registrar General of Supreme Court, Tshering Dorji, said that a huge one-way glass separates court room from other rooms. This room will be used to interact with the child and child witness. The room has book shelves so that children can read.
This year, as of now 31 children-related cases are registered with the Thimphu district court and 230 matrimonial cases are registered. A similar bench will be established in Paro, Phuentsholing and Wangduephodrang later.
Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck inaugurated the family and child bench, which is funded by Save the Children, Italy.