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Minister to take children in lock-up issue to Cabinet

Saturday, September 01, 2012    

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A submission addressing the issue of children being held in lock-ups and adult remand facilities is to go before Cabinet shortly.

Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna, making the disclosure at a Child Development Agency (CDA)-sponsored community forum and expo in Granville St James, on Thursday, said the submission which is now being finalised will, "among other things, seek Cabinet approval for recommendations for child offenders remanded by the court or awaiting court appearance to be held in separate facilities from those housing adults.

The submission, she said, emerged from discussions between the ministries of Youth and culture, justice and national security, the CDA and the Office of the Children's Advocate since year. The youth and culture minister also indicated that international development partners are also part of the broad-based approach being fashioned to solve the problem.

"It is not a situation that will be solved overnight, but it is a situation for which we are committed to finding a lasting solution," she noted.

Hanna, in pointing out that it was a sad fact that 50 years after Jamaica's Independence one of the negative cultural trends that must be reversed, was the culture of child abuse, said the forums by the CDA have become necessary as the organisation and the Ministry of Youth and Culture step up the campaign to remind Jamaicans of the importance of protecting children.

On Monday, rights group Jamaicans for Justice advocated that by this Sunday, the day before the new academic year commences, there should be no children in police lock-ups and instead all children in conflict with the law be placed in appropriate facilities with appropriate educational instruction. Furthermore, it said children being held in juvenile remand and correctional facilities should, as of the beginning of the new school year, be provided with the education that they have the right to receive as stated by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Jamaica is a signatory.

The group said Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, who has responsibility for corrections and police lock-ups; the minister of youth and culture, who has responsibility for children; Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison; the Child Development Agency, which has responsibility for all children in Jamaica; and Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites should all see that the request is met.

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