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  • The Ministry of Justice will be setting up 14 Justice Centres across the island, which will be the focal point to spread and push alternative dispute resolution programmes such as restorative justice, mediation and child diversion.
  • Director of the Justice Reform Implementation Unit (JRIU) in the Ministry, Althea McBean, indicated that the child diversion Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament shortly.
  • ssistant Director of Legal Reform in the Ministry, Nicole Wright, who also addressed the session, advised that a number of Acts will need to be amended to accommodate the implementation of this policy.

The Ministry of Justice will be setting up 14 Justice Centres across the island, which will be the focal point to spread and push alternative dispute resolution programmes such as restorative justice, mediation and child diversion.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, said the centres are also expected to be the meeting places for the parish child diversion committees as well as a facility for training and sensitisation.

He was speaking at a sensitisation session at the Ministry’s Constant Spring Road offices on March 30, on the child diversion policy to be implemented by the Ministry.

The policy aims to provide an alternative to institutionalisation of juvenile offenders.

“From an early age when children come into conflict with the law, we need to find ways and means to divert, steer or keep them away from further criminality; that is the intention of the child diversion policy,” Minister Chuck explained, noting that children, need to be treated differently than adult wrongdoers.

He argued that many of the adult recidivists or habitual criminals are persons, who, at a tender age, got into conflict with the law and did not have the opportunity to make a change.

“We want to move or divert our most vulnerable, such as our children, away from the criminal justice system where they are labelled, as once you start labelling someone, they start acting out the label,” he stressed.

Director of the Justice Reform Implementation Unit (JRIU) in the Ministry, Althea McBean, indicated that the child diversion Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament shortly.

 

Noting that “children in custody should be a last resort,” she cited a number of alternatives that will be explored to be included in the diversion programme.

These include curfews, mediation, community service, probation, supervision, counselling, anger management, mentorship and homework.

Assistant Director of Legal Reform in the Ministry, Nicole Wright, who also addressed the session, advised that a number of Acts will need to be amended to accommodate the implementation of this policy.

These include the Child Care and Protection Act, Constabulary Force Act, Gun Court Act, Corrections Act, and the Parole Act.