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Alternatives to Imprisonment for the Juveniles: A Case Study of Pakistan

Mirza Mashhood Ahmad

This article sets out to explore alternatives to imprisonment in the context of human rights,
and as an obligation of Pakistan under international law. Firstly it explores the contextual
issues of juvenile imprisonment. It tackles the central issue of age of criminal responsibility
and goes on to analyze international norms and practice, including principally the CRC
Committee recommendations and prescriptions of relevant child right bodies, in identifying
the variety of dispositions available to imprisonment for the juvenile offenders. Secondly,
the case of Pakistan is examined in the light of established international standards as well
emerging norms of handling juvenile offenders. As a signatory what are Pakistan’s
obligations and how far Pakistan is fulfilling its obligations and how relevant and effective
are the CRC’s recommendations? Such questions will be critically examined. This paper
attempts a holistic view of the subject from the perspective of international law as well as
counter poses it against the exigencies of the local situation before offering considered
conclusions on the direction the emerging debate of alternative imprisonment may take in
the world context as well at a local level in Pakistan.

Keywords: Criminal Justice System, Juvenile Justice System, Juvenile Delinquency, Diversion,
Probation, Juvenile Courts, Age of Criminal Responsibility, Borstal Institution,
Imprisonment, Alternative dispositions.