Kohima: In a first of its kind for the state of Nagaland, a child-friendly court named ‘Children Zone’ was inaugurated on Tuesday in the District Court Complex at Wokha.

Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, Chief Justice of Guahati High Court, Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh and Patron-in-Chief of Nagaland State Legal Services Authority, formally inaugurated the children zone.

Initiated by Nagaland State Legal Services Authority (NSLSA), the ‘Children Zone’ is an extension of free legal services scheme for children under National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), with the aim to set up child-friendly courtroom for children. 

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act mandates that child-friendly environment must be set up to make the criminal justice system less traumatic for the child survivor and their family.

As per statistics, the case of girl child abuse in Nagaland in 2019 was 0.72 % and the number of cases increased to 4.93% in 2020.

The establishment of child-friendly zone in all the districts in Nagaland remains vital in safeguarding the interest and well-being of child in every stage of judicial process, incorporating child-friendly procedures.

When children are produced in the court multiple times for recording statements at the call of the magistrate, they have to sit in the courtroom in the presence of police, lawyers, and accused people in most of the cases including POCSO cases. 

When a victim of sexual assault has to openly sit in the courtroom, the person’s right to confidentiality is violated. Everybody who enters and leaves the courtroom can see the child and identify them as victims of sexual abuse. Court trails and sessions are daunting and stressful, not only for the accused but the staffs and their families too.  

In such cases children can be taken care of, in the child-friendly zone which would have a crèche facility not only for the victims or the accused children but also the children of the court staff.  

The ‘Children Zone’ is aimed to resolve cases related to crime against children in a friendly environment with state-of-art provisions facility as per the guidelines provided in the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act), 2012, where the child can feel at ease.

The child friendly zone will provide a child a safe and stress free environment for the court to record statement and to improve the efficiency of the welfare services for a girl child and speedy disposal of child sexual abuse cases, the NSLSA informed.

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