Religious community’s support enlisted to safeguard Children’s rights

DPI, GUYANA, Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Rights of the Child Commission today enlisted the support of the religious community in Guyana for the protection of children’s rights in Guyana.

Representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, Rastafarian and Indigenous faiths all recited their respective prayers at this morning’s Rights of the Child (RCC) ‘Prayer and Breakfast’ held at the Marriott Hotel today.

The objective of the exercise was to mobilise and enlist the support of the religious community in protecting and advancing the rights and interest of Guyanese children especially those who may be deemed vulnerable and those who come into contact with the law.

The RCC in partnership with UNICEF hosted the event for the second consecutive year themed “Helping our children to find the right path”. This theme is cited as a keen component of the RCC’s mission and philosophy in engaging the children of Guyana.

As part of this process, the RCC has engaged the children of Annandale Secondary School, Buxton Secondary School, President’s College, Skeldon Line Path Secondary School, Sophia Holding Centre and those our penal system views as young offenders at the Timehri prison.

Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally, in her address to the stakeholders, children and other personnel said “The Juvenile Justice bill which was recently passed in the National Assembly has put Guyana on the path towards finally having a juvenile system that is rational, fair, and effective in accordance with our international treaty obligations under the UN Convention on  the Rights of the Child and one that would improve synergy among department, agencies and ministries responsible for juvenile justice.”

According to the Minister, efforts have to be made to keep juveniles from coming into contact with the law and if they do come into contact, then rehabilitation methods must be employed from the time they are arrested.

Although the bill will still hold young offenders accountable for their actions, it will also protect them from harm and increase their chance of having a better life and manage the risk they pose to themselves and to society.

“The Ministry of Social Protection stands ready to cater for the needs of children who are predisposed to delinquency but under the age of criminal responsibility,” Minister Ally added. “I see this event as an opportunity to highlight and examine not merely what we might do or what we ought to do but what we can do.”

Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo, wife of the Prime Minister in her address noted that the event was meant to raise the consciousness about the condition of children who come into contact and conflict with the law.

She said “this Juvenile Justice Act places the well-being of juveniles and the best interest of children as paramount when the courts make a decision on punishment. The law encourages and facilities juveniles to have a meaningful life in their communities through rehabilitation, education and reintegration.”

Over 100 persons were in attendance inclusive of social workers and sociologists, child behaviourists, teachers, members of faith-based organisations, and children from across Guyana.

By: Nateshia Isaacs

Images: Jules Gibson