A court system to deal specifically with cases involving children who break the law will soon be launched in Guyana.
Like the recently launched sexual offences court, the youth court will be tailored in such a way so that children are not victimized in the judicial process.
The Country Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Guyana. Slyvie Fouet told reporters at a press conference Friday that the specialized court will bring about benefits such as the fast-tracking of cases involving juveniles.
This, she said, would eliminate situations where children are on remand for years – like the case with the Baramita Youth, Eon Henry who was confined in the Sophia Holding Centre for seven years, waiting on trial.
She said the court could have features such as double-screens so that children’s identity will be protected as well as a recording system so that they will not have to relive traumatizing experiences through their testimonies.
The UNICEF official explained, however, that while the physical infrastructure for the youth court is critical, an even important element involves trained and dedicated officials who will work on child-related cases.
This initiative is being spearheaded by the Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Yonette Cummings Edwards and according to the UNICEF official, the court is expected to be in operation in just a few months.
This would coincide with the passage of the Juvenile Justice Bill – which proposes sweeping changes to the juvenile justice system in Guyana.
Among other things, it provides alternative sentencing for young people and it mandates that every child who is at odds with the law to have legal representation.
In short, the Bill focuses more on rehabilitative penalties for children.