The revised draft Juvenile Justice Bill which seeks to reform the entire juvenile justice system is in the process of being finalised before it is presented to Cabinet, shortly.
The government felt that stakeholders’ inputs were important and therefore held consultations in Georgetown, and Regions Two and Six.
Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said there is some fine-tuning to be done to the final draft, and that will be presented to Cabinet in September.
Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan
“I will be putting out the final version that Cabinet would have approved sometime late September,” Ramjattan added.
The minister was responding to questions from the media on the draft bill, on Wednesday.
The draft Bill is expected to decriminalise crimes such as truancy and wandering and deal with issues of youth sentencing. “These are all economic crimes, and these young people shouldn’t be penalised for being poor and going on the streets,” Minister Ramjattan said.
The draft Bill is also expected to address the age of criminal responsibility. Overall, the Bill aims to “have a more modern system of dealing with juvenile justice,” to stand in conformity with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The draft Bill was first conceived under the previous administration with support and input from the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in 2004. After consultations and input by stakeholders such as the Rights of the Child Commission, the first draft was produced in 2007. However, progress on the bill was delayed for seven years. Attempts were made to revive the process in 2014, but it was the present administration that continued the process of finalising the Bill for passage into law.
The 11-part Bill also makes provisions for the establishment of facilities to enable the rehabilitation and education of juvenile offenders.
The Bill is expected to be laid in the National Assembly when it reconvenes in October.