By: L.N. Reklai
August 31, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Execution of a Memorandum of Understanding on Juvenile Proceedings between Attorney General’s Office, Public Defenders Office, Bureau of Public Safety and Palau Judiciary have positively impacted the lives of many young people in Palau starting in 2016 according to press release from the Palau Supreme Court. [restrict]
Base on court review of year 2010, 112 of 125 children with juvenile citation cases were found guilty of criminal citation charges. Of those 112 children, 46 or (41%) were incarcerated in Koror Jail where there were no separate facilities for children. Two-third of these 112 children served 24 hour sentence in jail and 25% served sentences between 5 to 90 days in jail.
In 2016, under this MOU, the Court can utilize a section under the Penal Code that came into force in 2014 to withhold the accused guilty plea and defer court proceedings under certain conditions.
After completion of deferral period, if the accused complied with conditions imposed, the court will discharge and dismiss the charges. The dismissal will be without adjudication of guilt, eliminate any civil admission of guilt and is not a conviction.
Using this deferred adjudication process children who are found guilty of criminal citations will have their adjudication deferred with conditions. This means that the children will not have criminal conviction record which could have negative impact on their lives.
In 2016, 34 juvenile citation cases were filed on kids with age ranging from 12 to 17. 31 of those cases or 91% used deferred adjudication procedure and the children did not spend time in jail or get criminal conviction on their records.
Compared to 2010, 90% of the 112 children found guilty of criminal citation charges now have a record of their juvenile delinquency and 46 of them served time in Koror Jail. [/restrict]