Of the total 870 cases from RBP received by the Office of Attorney General (OAG) for a prosecution in 2018, there were total of 61 cases on sexual offences committed against children, 22 cases of sexual offences against women and 47 cases related to Child in Conflict of Law (CICL).
The 61 cases on sexual offences committed against children included 38 cases of Rape of a Child above 12 years of age, 17 cases of child molestation, 2 cases of Statutory Rape, and 1 case of Child abuse and Child Trafficking.
Likewise, 22 cases reported offences committed against Women and all cases were sexual offences, including 10 cases of Prostitution, 8 cases of rape out of which 5 cases of rape was with married person,3 cases were rape, and 3 cases Computer Pornography as well as 1 case of Domestic Violence.
In 2017, 33 cases involving women victims were reported but it dropped down by 10 cases in 2018. In 2017, the case of prostitution contributed the highest with 10 cases followed by rape and rape of married women, with 6 cases each. In addition, 3 gang rapes were reported in 2017 however no single case of gang rape were reported in 2018.
These data however do not show overall picture as prosecution of cases below misdemeanor (petty misdemeanor-imprisonment of less than one year) are being prosecuted by the RBP and most of the Domestic Violence cases fall into the category of RBP case prosecution.
A total of 47 cases related to CICL were referred to OAG. This also does not reflect the total number of CICL cases, since offences involving petty misdemeanor and violations are prosecuted by RBP as per the Police Act. CICL case referrals have decreased substantially.
As per The Child Care and Protection Act of Bhutan 2011, section 72, a Child in Conflict with the Law is a child who is above 12 years of age and found to have committed an offence.
In 2018, CICL has contributed 21 burglary cases, 8 battery cases, 6 robberies, 3 illicit trafficking of drugs, 1 illegal abortion and 1 voluntary manslaughter. In addition, there are also a cases of larceny, malicious mischief, illegal possession of cannabis, unauthorized use of property and substance abuse with very few cases (1 to 2 cases each) contributed by them.
Meanwhile, the OAG said that with the commencement of Diversion Guidelines, 2016 encompassing procedures and standard, the office strives to divert cases of CICL through alternative measures and sentencing unless the cases are of more serious nature risking public safety.
“Unlike the past trend, channeling the CICL cases for diversion have become much easier and accepted, since the implementing agencies and the public have been aware of the best interest of the child and the laws” the office added.
OAG also said that, secondly, they have a designated court bench specifically for women and children addressing family and domestic related issues for expeditious resolution. A total of eight cases were diverted in 2018 and few others are still undergoing diversion process.
The diversion cases were hitherto recorded to be highest. The follow ups of diversion cases are monitored by the Probation Officers and Gender Focal Persons in consultation with prosecutors of the OAG.
Challenges associated with Diversion includes difficulty in coordinating the sessions in executing diversion agreement as multi-stakeholders are involved, the office said, adding that, restitution is difficult to resolve as most of them including their parents and guardians have no means to pay damages to victims; and there is difficulty in determination of programs for CICL cases.