Rights of the Child in Conflict with the Law

A child in conflict with the law is one who is below 18 years old, alleged as, accused of, or adjudged as having committed an offense under Philippine Laws [see also Primer on the 2019 Supreme Court Revised Rule on Children in Conflict with the Law). In all criminal proceedings, the child in conflict with the law shall have the following rights, which shall be respected and protected by the court:

(a) To be presumed innocent until guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt; 

(b) To be informed promptly and directly of the nature and cause of the charge and if appropriate, through the child’s mother, father, or legal guardian; 

(c) To be present at every stage of the proceedings, from arraignment to promulgation of judgment. The child may, however, waive presence at the trial pursuant to the stipulations set forth in the bail bond, unless presence at the trial is specifically ordered by the court for purposes of identification. The absence of the child without justifiable cause at the trial of which there was due notice shall be considered a waiver of the right of the child to be present. Escape by the child under custody shall be deemed a waiver of the right to be present in all subsequent hearings until custody over such child is regained; 

(d) To have legal and other appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation of the child’s defense; in case of a child arrested for reasons related to aimed conflict, to have immediate free legal assistance; 

(e) If in custody, to be released (i) on recognizance to the willing and responsible mother or father or guardian, or in the absence thereof, the nearest relative; (ii) on bail; or (iii) by commitment to a “Bahay Pag-asa” or youth rehabilitation center; 

(1) Not to be detained in a jail or transferred to an adult facility pending trial or hearing of the case, unless detention is used as a last resort which must be done for the shortest time possible, and only upon order by the court; 

(g) In case the child has been arrested for reasons related to armed conflict, either as combatant, courier, guide or spy: (i) To be segregated and have separate detention quarters from adults except where families are accommodated as family units; (ii) To immediate free legal assistance in the absence of private counsel; (iii) To immediate notice of such arrest to the parents, guardians or nearest relatives of the child; and, (iv) To be released on recognizance within twenty-four (24) hours to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or any responsible member of the community as determined by the court; 

(h) To testify as a witness in his/her own behalf, subject to cross-examination only on matters covered by direct examination. The child shall not be compelled to be a witness against himself/herself, and the child’s silence shall not in any manner prejudice him/her; 

(i) To confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him/her;

(j) To have compulsory process issued to secure the attendance of witnesses and production of other evidence in the child’s behalf; 

(k) To have speedy and impartial trial, with legal or other appropriate assistance and preferably in the presence of the child’s parents or legal guardian, unless such presence is considered not to be in the best interest of the child taking into account the latter’s age or other peculiar circumstances; 

(1) To be accorded all the rights under the Rule on Examination of a Child Witness; (m) To have the child’s privacy fully protected in all stages of the proceedings; and (n) To appeal in all cases allowed and in the manner prescribed by law;

(o) Other rights as provided for under existing laws, rules and regulations.

[Source: Section 37 of the 2019 Supreme Court Revised Rule on Children in Conflict with the Law]

P&L Law

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