By Kinley Yonten
The judge will not be sitting on a high raised throne intimidating the litigants. The judge will be able to see the litigants through a glass partition, but not the litigants. The court room is filled with books and toys.
This is the child bench at the Thimphu district court. To provide care and safeguard the rights of the children, Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck graced the inauguration of the Family and Child Bench at the Thimphu District Court, on June 28.
The bench is the first of its kind in the country’s judicial history. The Bench at the court is equipped with modern facilities like closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera, video communication system to conduct the proceedings.
The Judiciary aims at speedy disposal of case related to children provide child-friendly environment and prevent.
Register General of the Supreme Court, Tshering Dorji said, “Earlier, it takes time to resolve family and child related cases, since the cases were dealt together with other cases.” He added that this bench will help resolve the cases faster as the bench will deal only with family and child related cases.
“Facility will also enable the judge to ask questions to the child and the accused without any direct contact, likewise child will not have to face the alleged offenders to ensure that the child is not intimidated while court proceedings are on,” he said.
The bench was established in line with the Convention on the Rights of Children and Childcare and Protection Act of Bhutan. Child Care and Protection Act require the court to provide right care and protection to safeguard the right of child who are either victims or come in conflict with law.
The bench has been functional since November last year along with other specialist Benches in Thimphu District Court. It was recently furnished with modern amenities with financial support from the Save the Children office, Italy.
The judiciary established the specialised courts in December last year. There are about 31 child-related cases and 230 family cases registered with the court as of now.
Unlike other courtrooms, there are no masks hanging from the courtroom walls. A one-way glass window separates the courtroom and the other room, where some adult and children books are placed on a shelf. This room will be used to interact with children and alleged offenders alike while the judge looks on through the glass window from her courtroom.
Likewise, the witness or victim will be allowed direct interaction with the judge, while the accused will be able to view and hear proceedings via a two way video conferencing in the courtroom.
A two way video communication system allows the child witness to identify the accused on camera as well as enable judge to ask question to the child and the accused without any physical interface.
The child will not be allowed to come face to face with the alleged offenders to make sure child is not intimated while court proceedings are on.
The family and child bench Drangpon, Pasang Wangmo, said, “The CCPAB requires the court to provide the right care and protection. The court will also help in speedy disposal of child-related cases to safeguard the rights of the child, who is either a victim or an in conflict with the law.”