Ramjattan tables Juvenile Justice Bill

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Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan on Thursday tabled the Juvenile Justice Bill, paving the way for the Parliament to begin considerations of the proposed changes to the juvenile justice system.

In reading the Bill for the first time in the National Assembly, Ramjattan explained that it makes provision for proceedings with respect to juvenile offenders; to provide for the establishment of facilities for the custody, education and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders, and to repeal the Juvenile Offenders Act and the Training Schools Act.

The Juvenile Offenders Act and the Training Schools Act currently govern the juvenile justice system but child rights activists had concerns with some of the archaic measures.

Nicole Cole, who sits on the Rights of the Child Commission (ROCC), is particularly concerned that children can be charged for wandering under the existing legislation.

The Act proposes that no private prosecutions of juveniles may be conducted without the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

It also proposes that where a juvenile has been found guilty of the offence of murder, the Court shall not pronounce or record a sentence of death against him or her but in lieu thereof the Court shall sentence the juvenile to be held at a secure residential facility at the Court’s pleasure.

In fact, the Bill proposes that no child or juvenile shall be subject to imprisonment. It says “where a juvenile is found guilty of an offence under any law the finding of guilt shall not be recorded as a conviction.”

Proposed alternatives include community service, order that the juvenile pay a fine or have the juvenile’s parents pay the fine, order the juvenile to restitute any property obtained as a result of the commission of the offence, the juvenile placed in an open residential facility, among others.

The full bill can be accessed here: https://mops.gov.gy/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/juvenile-justice-bill.pdf

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