Juvenile Justice Bill 2018 ‘Revolutionary’ – RCC Activists
DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, March 22, 2018
With the recent reading of the Juvenile Justice Bill 2018 by Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, Rights of the Child Commission (RCC) Activists, Nicole Cole and Andre Gonsalves commended the government for finally presenting what they described as a revolutionary bill.
The bill, which seeks to repeal the Juvenile Offenders Act and the Training Schools Act, aims to amend and consolidate the law in relation to criminal justice for juveniles and make provision for proceedings with respect to young offenders and provide for the establishment of facilities for the custody, education, and rehabilitation of these offenders.
Commissioner, sitting on the Rights of the Child Commission and the Women and Gender Equality Commission, Nicole Cole said “this bill is revolutionary. The reason is that it will finally eschew the charge of wandering. And, if you investigate at NOC you will see that over 70 percent or more of the children in there are charged with wandering. UNICEF has done the research and it is there, this bill will no longer prosecute children in difficult circumstances.”
The activists have been advocating for the passing of the bill for a number of years and have even recently engaged legal practitioners who recommended that the RCC campaign for more provisions on the bill.
Investigation Officer of RCC, Andre Gonsalves also noted that the bill still needs other provisions which he will continue to advocate.
“We need to address the issue of children being incarcerated or on remand for over five years because justice delayed is justice denied. Another thing we ought to look at and pay keen attention to is children appearing in court unrepresented. We either need to expand the subvention to the Guyana Legal Aid Clinic, or we need to establish some form of legal aid under the protection of children act, these are some of the features that this should address,” Gonsalves posited.
The bill is expected to decriminalise offences such as truancy and wandering, and deal with issues of youth sentencing. Minister Ramjattan had noted that young people should not be penalized for these are economic crimes. Overall the bill aims to have a modern Juvenile Justice system that conforms with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
By: Stephon Gabriel