RCC ensures continued activism towards Juvenile Justice

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, May 4, 2018

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC), Amar Panday today voiced the Commission’s support for juvenile justice and the soon to be implemented, Juvenile Justice Bill.

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC), Amar Panday and UNICEF’s representative, Sylvie Fouet at the press briefing at the Ministry of Public Security.

Panday highlighted that in modern and progressive countries the dispensation of juvenile justice is governed by the number of international conventions and instruments relating to juvenile justice. The one held to be most important is the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child, Panday said.

“Those international conventions are supposed to guide and inform the prevalence of juvenile justice in any country. If your system of juvenile justice is informed by these international instruments, invariably you would have a humane system which caters for the best interest of those who come into the contact with the law.”

The CEO, however, noted that Guyana has had, for many years, a system of juvenile justice that invariably departs from the spirit and intent of those conventions and human rights instructs.

He referenced the case of 19-year-old Ian Henry who was incarcerated for almost seven years. The teen was freed this week following an intervention by the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Legal Aid Clinic and the Ministry of Public Security.

Henry was arrested and charged with murder in 2011 when he was just 13, without any legal representation and trial. He was recently released after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dismissed the case.

Panday further stressed that this was a violation of Henry’s constitutional right to a free and fair hearing. He noted that a fair and speedy trial is a fundamental component of the jurisprudence of a modern democratic country.

“This is not something we should lapse with, but in this case, he was denied that fundamental right to be tried in a court of law when the state brings a charge against you.”

In 2015, the commission found that an overwhelming majority of children detained in the holding centres were denied their right to legal representation.

The RCC has approached UNICEF to implement a project which provides funding for lawyers to assist the detained children.

“The RCC recognises that the Juvenile Justice Bill that is to be implemented contemplates the provision of legal representation for children in contact with the law, and we will be providing representation and continued activism and advocacy so that these provisions are made material in the not too distant future”

The commission is eagerly awaiting the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Bill which examines the provisions of legal representation for children in conflict with the law.

Similar cases involving youths at holding centres, the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) and youths being detained at the New Amsterdam and Timehri prisons, are currently being investigated by the RCC.


By: Stephon Gabriel.