KINGSTON, Jamaica- Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) and Help JA Children have written to chairman of the Child Development Agency (CDA) Maxine Henry Wilson asking her to provide clarity on the agency’s roles and responsibilities as it relates to children in conflict with the law.
The groups say they have also sent a copy of the letter to Carla Francis-Edie, the CEO of the agency.
They say that the clarity is needed in light of recent events, including the continued holding of minors in police lock-ups and adult detention facilities and the case of a 14-year-old girl who gave birth while before the courts on a murder charge.
“What we have now is confusion and that cannot continue. We need the CDA to outline their roles and responsibilities in relation to children in conflict of the law, particularly so that we can know where to go to when issues like this arise,” said JFJ executive director Carolyn Gomes.
Gomes added that she hopes the CDA responds quickly to this request for clarification.
The joint letter asks the CDA to outline its roles and responsibilities and asks Henry-Wilson to specifically explain:
- The responsibility of the CDA to all juveniles in conflict of the law, including those before the courts and on bail
- The role of the CDA in the evaluation and monitoring of juvenile detention facilities
- The role of the CDA in the evaluation and monitoring of juvenile offenders
- The role the CDA plays, if any, in the training of correction officers and wardens to deal with juvenile offenders
- The responsibility of the CDA, if any, to juveniles housed at adult correctional facilities such as Horizon and Fort Augusta
Earlier this week, the groups called on Minister of Youth & Culture Lisa Hanna to issue instructions to the CDA to remove all children that are currently housed in police lock-ups. They contend that it is illegal to house children in these facilities and that while in these lock-ups the children have no access to education instruction, which is a violation of their rights.
Chief Advocate of Help JA Children Brandon Allwood said that the groups are still hoping to meet with Hanna when she returns to office later this week.
“Outside of the CDA outlining their roles, the Minister has indicated that she is going to be taking a submission to Cabinet with recommendations on how to deal with children in police lock-ups among other things. We want to know what this submission is about because from our view it seems like an administrative delay, while these children continue to languish in environments not suited for them,” he
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