JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Acting Public Defender, Matondo Mukulu, is hailing the tremendous response of young Jamaicans to the Office of the Public Defender’s inaugural Nationwide Essay Competition.
  • The initiative, launched in July and concluded with the award ceremony on October 23, was aimed at increasing young people’s awareness of their fundamental rights as well as the newly passed Disabilities Act. It had two age categories: 13 to 17; and 18 to 25.
  • The Acting Public Defender said that his office will be utilising some of the ideas that have been outlined in the essays.

Acting Public Defender, Matondo Mukulu, is hailing the tremendous response of young Jamaicans to the Office of the Public Defender’s inaugural Nationwide Essay Competition.

The initiative, launched in July and concluded with the award ceremony on October 23, was aimed at increasing young people’s awareness of their fundamental rights as well as the newly passed Disabilities Act. It had two age categories: 13 to 17; and 18 to 25.

“The significance of this competition is to get young people involved in discussing issues relating to human rights…to have them talk about human rights at their level, guarantees that they are engaged in the process of critical thinking,” Mr. Mukulu said.

The Acting Public Defender said that his office will be utilising some of the ideas that have been outlined in the essays.

Six students received awards at the presentation ceremony held at the Ministry of Finance and Planning’s National Heroes Circle offices.

Andre McKenzie of Norman Manley Law School copped first place in the 18 to 25 age category, while Yanique Nation of Mount Alvernia High School was first among the 13 to 17-year olds.

First year student at the University of the West Indies (UWI, Dominic Barnett, who was on spot to claim her runner-up prize, highlighted the ‘Right to a Safe Environment’ as the most fundamental right.

“I indentified this right to be most important based on my observation over time. This competition has given me more insight on human rights. When I was conducting my research I was amazed that there was so much that I did not know and that we take for granted,” she said.

The Office of the Public Defender is hoping to make the competition an annual event. Mr. Mukulu indicated that next year, the focus will be on maladministration, which is another area of responsibility for the office under the Public Defender Interim Act.

He also informed that during Constitution Week in April 2015, young people will be engaged through different media to increase their awareness of the Constitution.

He expressed gratitude for the support from the various sponsors in making the essay competition a success.

Several of the event’s sponsors, including the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union, and National Commercial Bank (NCB) mounted exhibitions during the award ceremony.