Child Diversion Bill Will Strengthen Childcare and Protection System – Green

Photo: Rudranath Fraser State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, making his contribution to the debate on the Child Diversion Bill during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (April 3).

Story Highlights

  • State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, says the Child Diversion Bill will contribute to the strengthening of the nation’s childcare and protection system.
  • “What the Bill really does is to continue to strengthen our approach in relation to how we treat with children in our nation and in ensuring that we put the best interest of the child at the centre of all we do as a country,” Mr Green said.
  • The Bill seeks to enable the implementation of child-diversion measures in dealing with children who come into conflict with the law.

State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, says the Child Diversion Bill will contribute to the strengthening of the nation’s childcare and protection system.

“What the Bill really does is to continue to strengthen our approach in relation to how we treat with children in our nation and in ensuring that we put the best interest of the child at the centre of all we do as a country,” Mr Green said.

He was making his contribution to the Debate on the legislation during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (April 3).

The Bill seeks to enable the implementation of child-diversion measures in dealing with children who come into conflict with the law.

Among the main objectives of the Bill are ensuring that every child in conflict with the law is treated in a manner that recognises and upholds human dignity and worth, diverting the child away from engaging in deviant and delinquent behaviours, and instilling in the child respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Mr. Green said the Bill makes it clear that the legislation should be interpreted in the best interest of the child, “which is a significant move in relation to our justice system and our child-protection system”.

He highlighted that the Bill recommends that criminal proceedings are not to be instituted against a child if there is an alternative and appropriate means of dealing with the matter, adding that “this is a step in the right direction”.

“Research has shown that the best interest of the child, especially in relation to when they have gone afoul of the law, is not to focus on the criminality but to focus on the rehabilitation of the child,” the State Minister said.

The Bill will also see to the establishment of a Child Diversion office, Child Diversion committees, and a Child Diversion Oversight Committee. It also addresses the structure of the Child Diversion programme and the circumstances under which a child is to be referred, among other things.

Child diversion is a process of implementing measures for dealing with children who are alleged, accused or recognised to have infringed the penal law, without resorting to the formal judicial proceedings.

A National Child Diversion Policy was tabled in 2015 after consultation with all major stakeholders in Government, civil society and non-governmental organisations. Through this policy, a formal framework was established for dealing with children in conflict with the law throughout the criminal justice system and sought to ensure that detention of a child offender as punishment for antisocial behaviour is a measure of last resort.

One key objective of the policy was to develop the mechanism to not only divert children who come into conflict with the law but also to empower them to become responsible and productive citizens through the use of methodologies that are consistent with restorative justice practices.

Debate on the Bill was suspended until the next sitting of the House of Representatives.

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