Jamaica News: Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, says the Government is anticipating a smooth roll out of the National Child Diversion Programme, which is to become operational on January 1, 2020.
Addressing a Child Diversion Sensitisation Session at Glistening Waters Hotel and Attractions in Falmouth, Trelawny, December 6, Mr. Chuck said he recently signed off on the gazetting of the Child Diversion Bill, “so it becomes operational the first day of January next year, and we hope that the judges will start implementing it very soon after.”
Child diversion is the process of implementing measures for dealing with children who are accused or recognised to have infringed the law, without resorting to formal judicial proceedings.
The national programme is being introduced under the Child Diversion Act, that was passed in 2018. The initiative aims to reduce the number of children who are charged with offences and are exposed to the formal criminal justice system as a result; and increase the use of diversionary programmes to rehabilitate child offenders.
It also seeks to mandate State agencies and encourage non-governmental and community-based organisations to become active participants in providing services, support, protection, programmes and more to children with antisocial behaviours.
“We have to call upon you the upright, decent citizens to assist to provide the guidance, the support, the mentoring that many of these children did not get. We are urging you to participate in the parish child diversion committees [and] make yourselves available, so that you can be further trained,” Mr. Chuck charged.
“If you could spend half an hour to just sit with a child and listen to the child, talk to the child, then you don’t know what that means to that child and what that can do to take that child away from trouble,” he added.
Mr. Chuck indicated that the Ministry will be hosting training workshops for State agencies and NGOs islandwide, as well as promote a number of campaigns to sensitise more personnel.
“You will listen to the nice jingles on the radio and the Ministry will be putting out additional effort for more training in restorative justice. We are going to assist our young people who engage in wrongdoing. We are not going to send them off to jail. The idea is to give them the opportunity to go straight,” he argued.
Justice of the Peace (JP), in Trelawny, Althea Gibson, told JIS News that the National Child Diversion Programme “is very important and I think once we have persons working together, it will do great things for the children of this country and the country at large.”
The session brought together members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and JPs as well as representatives from the non-governmental, community-based and faith-based organisations in an effort to increase awareness.
Source: JIS News