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Story Highlights

  • Mr. Golding said so that so-called “uncontrollable” children cannot be sent to correctional facilities
  • Government is seeking to strengthen the care available to children who are in State custody
  • The Policy seeks to establish a formal framework for dealing with children in conflict with the law

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, has informed that Cabinet, on August 12, approved the drafting of an amendment to the Child Care and Protection Act.

This has been done, Mr. Golding said, so that so-called “uncontrollable” children cannot be sent to correctional facilities, “even if their parents wish it.”

The Minister was addressing the opening of a consultation for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the Draft National Child Diversion Policy,at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, on Thursday, August 15.

“In the interim, while that legislation is being prepared, I have instructed the Legal Aid Council to ensure that legal aid is available, not only to children who are before the court for criminal offences…but also to children who find themselves before the court on the grounds of uncontrollable behaviour,” he said.

The Minister informed that arrangements have been spearheaded by the Ministries of Youth and Culture and National Security to also improve the situation of children in this regard, noting that the Government is seeking to strengthen the psychiatric and psychological care available to children who are in State custody.

“Measures are being taken to ensure that juveniles and adults do not share the same correctional facilities, and to ensure that where children are taken to police stations they are not held in jail cells or facilities which also include adults,” he said.

The Minister further assured that the Government is no less passionate than the country’s advocacy groups about the plight of the nation’s children who are in conflict with the law.

“However, Government cannot simply cry out about the problems, but has to face and deal with the realities of resource constraints and the bureaucratic and governance processes that have to be pushed along to achieve actual action on the ground,” he said.

The consultation was held to garner feedback from the various Government departments and agencies, non-profit organizations, community-based organizations and church groups on the National Child Diversion Policy, as the administration finalises the document for approval and publication.

The Policy seeks to establish a formal framework for dealing with children in conflict with the law throughout the criminal justice process, with a view to ensuring that detention or institutionalisation is a measure of last resort.

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