Jamaica News: Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, is confident that the new initiatives to be rolled out by the Government from the passing of the Child Diversion Act, 2018, will help to reduce the number of gangs operating in Jamaica.
Speaking at the Ministry’s ‘Child Diversion Programme Stakeholders’ Sensitisation Session’, at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in New Kingston on Friday (June 14), Mr. Chuck said unattached youth who are found guilty of engaging in illicit activities and are prone to be recruited by gang members, will be enrolled in various programmes and not just imprisoned and sent back into the society after serving sentences.
“Once you do that [imprison them], you have really labelled them for life. When you go into the prisons, many are people who started crime from an early age and have not been diverted away from criminality and they end up being unable to function in modern society,” the Minister said.
“What this Child Diversion Policy is intended to do is to capture our young children from an early age, to divert them away from illicit [and] lawless activities, and the intention is to neutralise the gangs in our society, because these are the children that the gangs capture. The dons use them for further illicit activities,” he added.
In an effort to fully establish programmes associated with the Act, Minister Chuck said the Ministry is also setting up Parish Diversion Committees.
“These Parish Diversion Committees will be responsible for assisting with the rolling out of the objectives of the new Child Diversion Act, 2018 in each parish. We are going to put a Child Diversion Officer in every parish, who will be at a Justice Centre, and there will be a Justice Centre in every parish. From that office, we are going to ensure that the policy is properly implemented, because this Child Diversion Policy will be a game changer in Jamaica,” the Minister said.
He also noted that the Government has these objectives in place because it is determined to reach and assist vulnerable youth across the island.
“The Government is very concerned about the use and abuse of our children. Our children are under siege in far too many communities. They’re victims, not only of their parents but of the community, and it’s time that we take charge and ensure that our children are properly protected,” the Minister said.
Passage of the Child Diversion Act is to ensure that every child in conflict with the law is treated in a manner that recognises and upholds human dignity and worth, and that the child is diverted from engaging in deviant and delinquent behaviour.
The Act specifies, among other things, the establishment of National and Parish offices and to mainstream child diversion into the justice system.
The Stakeholder Sensitisation Session was geared towards presenting the provisions of the Act and plans for the implementation of the activities for the Act to Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and key justice stakeholders.
Source: JIS News