Junior ‘Legislators’ Call for Legitimisation of Youth Parliament


Youth “legislators” attending Monday’s (Nov. 10) sixth staging of the national Youth Parliament at Gordon House are advocating for the Government to effect the necessary legislation, which will legitimise and increase the number of youth sittings held annually.
The Youth Parliament, which meets once per year, forms part of activities organised by the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth, and Sports, and the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), to mark November as Youth Month, which is being observed this year, under the theme: ‘I can, We can, Youth can achieve greatness’.
More than 100 of the nation’s young people, representing various institutions, organisations, and associations across the island, converged at Gordon House to discuss and deliberate on several issues impacting them, and the country in general. These included: crime and violence, the environment, and human trafficking. In addition, a number of verbal notices of motions were also served.
One of these motions, presented by ‘Opposition’ member, Jermaine Hamm, urged the Government to put the necessary legislation in place, and undertake amendment of the National Youth Policy to “give legitimacy to the National Youth Parliament,” in order to facilitate its sitting at least thrice per year. This, he contended, is in light of the fact that “the motions put forward and debated, are the critical concerns of our nation’s youth, these issues being of utmost importance for the continued development of our nation.”
In endorsing the motion, ‘Opposition Leader’, Jerron Green from Manchester said it is “about time” that consideration be given to enhancing the Youth Parliament.
“We want to start now. We don’t want to come here (only) once per year. We are making a request that the Hon. Prime Minister Bruce Golding consider this request (of increasing sittings), as we are truly passionate about making our contribution to the development and advancement of our little country, Jamaica, land we love,” Mr. Green stated passionately.
Fellow parishioner and ‘Prime Minister’ Maurice Smith, who is from the University of the West Indies Law Society, described the Youth Parliament as a “wonderful opportunity for us…(and is) a most potent weapon in our fight against the ills facing us as young people.”
“I thank the Government for putting it forth and I urge them to improve on it…I urge them to add legitimacy to it,” Mr. Smith implored.
Speaking during the official opening, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth, and Sports, Senator Warren Newby, noted that the Youth Parliament “seeks to create a deeper understanding of the parliamentary process and, as such, deepen our democracy.”
He invited the submission of recommendations arising from the deliberations to the Ministry, for tabling in the House of Representatives by portfolio Minister, Olivia Grange.
“The National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) will also be selecting from among you, a group to spearhead a Parliamentary Watch Committee, to review all legislation, to make sure they meet the agenda of youth mainstreaming in Jamaica,” Senator Newby informed.
The Prime Minister, in a message read by ‘House Speaker’, Tamain Beckford from the United Nations Youth Association, said the Youth Parliament facilitates the nation’s youth with the opportunity to articulate their concerns, visions, and hopes for the future.
“This expressed interest by our youth, in issues that impact our nation and their own lives, is an indication that they recognise that the future lies in their hands and therefore are not simply content to sit by and have the future determined entirely by others, but instead, to have an impact in carving out the path to this future,” the Prime Minister stated.
Deputy House Leader and State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore, said the event allowed the young people to “contemplate what the future could be and…what role you could play in the future.”
He urged more young people to become actively involved in the democratic system and process of governance. “Each of you has influence…each of you helps to determine what is acceptable from what is not…by how you conduct yourselves. Every single Jamaican citizen has a role to play. So I ask you to get involved in a meaningful way…get involved in every way, shape, and form, in building our society…our country. We have created the Jamaica that we live in today, and we all have the capacity to contribute to creating the Jamaica that we want to live in tomorrow,” Mr. Gallimore stated.

JIS Social