KINGSTON — Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, has condemned the shooting incident which resulted in the death of 17-year-old student, Khajeel Mais, in Havendale, St. Andrew, on July 1, and has urged the shooter to turn himself in to the police.
The Minister made the appeal while opening the Second Regional meeting of the Inter-American Programme for the Prevention and Eradication of Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Illegal Trafficking and Trade in Children and Adolescents, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on July 6.
Khajeel succumbed to injuries sustained after the taxi in which he was travelling along Fairfax Avenue, Havendale, was allegedly fired on by the driver of a sports utility vehicle (SUV), after it was reportedly bumped by the public passenger vehicle.
Delivering the keynote address, Ms. Grange said the nation was troubled by the incident, and that it necessitated introspection and retrospection by the society as to why it occurred, and how re-occurrence can be prevented.
“In answering these questions, we need to talk to each other, engage each other in a debate about the care and protection of our children and our youth. Our children have a right to be happy,…they have the right to be healthy; they have the right to be educated; they have the right to enjoy their childhood; they have the right to grow up in an environment free from the threat of injury or harm. They have the right to expect that we, as adults and leaders, will care for them,” the Minister emphasised.
Ms. Grange said she is urging the shooter to do the right thing by coming forward. “I also call on anyone who knows anything to speak up; we owe it to Khajeel and we owe it to all our children to see that justice is done,” the Minister said.
The two-day meeting, being held under the theme: ‘Protecting Children of the Caribbean from Commercial Sexual Exploitation’, is being jointly staged by the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), in association with the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN), which co-ordinates the Inter-American Programme.
Over 30 delegates from some 12 regional states are attending the meeting, which is aimed at facilitating dialogue and discussions by the participants to create a framework of regional co-operation and collaboration on issues pertaining to child protection, particularly relating to commercial sexual exploitation; identifying and adopting best practices; and sharing experiences.
In welcoming the delegates, Minister Grange said that stakeholders across the region are very concerned about the care and safety of the nations’ children.
“The challenges we face might differ from territory to territory. But I believe that all of us…accept that no child is safe until all children are safe,” Ms. Grange said.
In her remarks, Chief Executive Officer, Child Development Agency, Carla Francis-Edie, expressed the hope that the discussions will yield resolutions that will assist in eliminating occurrences, such as sexual exploitation, that negatively impact the welfare of the region’s children.
“I hope that the impetus to construct change will remain vital to each of us, and spur us on to even greater works in the promotion and protection of the rights of our children,” Mrs. Francis-Edie urged.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter