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Story Highlights

  • The Office of the Public Defender (OPD) is inviting young Jamaicans to enter its Nationwide Essay Competition aimed at making them more aware of their rights.
  • The competition targets young people between the ages of 13 to 25 and participants will compete in two age categories.
  • Acting Public Defender, Matondo Mukulu, said that his office is concerned that citizens, especially young people, are not sufficiently aware of their rights and how his office can assist them.

The Office of the Public Defender (OPD) is inviting young Jamaicans to enter its Nationwide Essay Competition aimed at making them more aware of their rights.

The competition targets young people between the ages of 13 to 25 and participants will compete in two age categories.

Speaking with JIS News, Acting Public Defender, Matondo Mukulu, said that his office is concerned that citizens, especially young people, are not sufficiently aware of their rights and how his office can assist them.

“Persons are unaware of their rights, especially when it does not involve the right to life. One of the things I have looked at since assuming office is the number of complaints that we have received from this group (youth), which is rather low when compared to older persons where the greatest amount of complaints stem,” he informed.

Organizer for the Competition and Director of Investigations, Kayla Beckford, told JIS News that category one of the competition will involve students 13 to 17 years.

They will be asked to respond to the following statement in no more than 1,500 words: ‘The Disabled in my school are treated fairly and equally. If you do not agree say how you would change it.’

She said that the OPD is seeking to garner input that will assist with its recommendations on the Disabilities Bill, which is to be tabled in Parliament this year.

“Presently, we are making suggestions about the Disabilities Bill so this category fits into our interest area.  We are starting with disabilities in the education system and we have had parents contact us with their concerns. We are now providing young people with the option of adding their input; we are hoping to get submissions from disabled children in this category,” Ms. Beckford explained.

Category two, age 18 to 25, will address broad awareness of rights under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom.

Tertiary level students are being invited to respond to the topic: ‘Daily, we watch the news and we see persons protesting, “We want justice”. Many Jamaicans are unaware of their rights as cited under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom. In your own words, say which of these rights you consider most important and why. Say how this Commission can enlighten Jamaican of this right’. Responses should be limited to 2,500 words.

Ms. Beckford noted that only one entry is allowed per contestant. Winners of the Nationwide Essay Competition will receive prizes in cash and kind from the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), First Heritage Co-operative Credit Unit (FHCCU), Wisynco, Jamaica Observer, and Jamaica National Small Business Loans.

For submissions and additional information please contact Kayla Beckford in the Office of the Public Defender at kbeckford@opd.gov.jm or 922-4882.