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Age of criminal responsibility to be raised, wandering decriminalized – Ramjattan

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan

Vice President and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan says that the new Juvenile Justice Bill would be seeking to implement a myriad of changes for juvenile justice while decriminalizing wandering.

Ramjattan made the statement while delivering the feature address at the first of three consultations on the draft Bill that is expected to be taken before the house in the near future.

He pointed out that a very important principle which this Draft Bill deals with is the age of criminal responsibility.  There is a question of whether it should be increased from its present ten years old to twelve  years old or should it go up even further to sixteen (16) years.

This would be decided upon the completion of the consultation with the public for the legislation.

Also up for debate was whether issues such as wandering, running away and skipping school should be considered criminal offences.

The Minister made it clear where he stood on such issues noting that these are acts which often are the result of psychological or socio-economic problems.

“It is particularly a matter of concern that girls and street children are often victims of this kind of communication.  These acts are not considered criminal when committed by adults.  There is an inherent injustice there, and discrimination on grounds of age,” said Ramjattan.

He pointed out that there are a number of children who were sentenced to the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) for the offence of wandering – that amount being 13 as at August 2015.

“These offences must be abolished.  We must enhance humaneness and equity by reducing the use of secure confinement.  We must not betray young people by continuing the imposition of custodial sentences.  This must only be an exercise of last resort, where nothing else is left to protect the public,” the Vice President stated.

It was stated that the Government is aware that this revolution in juvenile justice, which this Draft Bill will introduce, is going to require a number of changes and a huge amount of resources.

“The changes must include mindset changes of the professionals presently engaged; and, what I call ‘organizational dynamics’ which exist in institutions dealing with youth justice.  Support will be given to have these changes made as quickly as possible.

  • rudeo

    This bungler talking everything else except what he is appointed for and being paid to do…..providing plans and talking about homeland security

  • george wiltshire

    Hi bro to allow children to stray will increase criminality. You guys need to do something about crime before touching areas that will open something you are unable to cople with

    • eddie

      this program is lacking foresight,,, it is inhumane and wrong to have underage to be locked up with adults but incarceration in the proper environment with a robust program to rehab them is the correct way to go……. because if we allow the youth infraction to go unpunished the criminal will exploit this situation in carrying out there dirty work,,, so be careful… now where is this guys with any plan to stem the present killing and robbery last I remember he had all the answer when in opposition but seem to be MIA now

    • Gtloyal

      “… to allow children to stray will increase criminality …”
      Not as much as incarcerating them in one of our (criminal schooling) “institutions”. That makes us all criminals.
      “… the delinquent child must be reclaimed …” according to the UN Rights of the child and it is the responsibility of the state to do so in a humane manner.
      Its a complicated matter, at times a hard decesions, considering what some juveniles do … but ours must be a civilized society.

  • Gtloyal

    No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights. There are laws in Guyana that goes against our rights as human beings – both adult and children.
    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty in effect since September 2, 1990 and of which Guyana is a signatory. It defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen.
    All of the so called “crimes” mentioned in the article are in violation of this treaty.
    (Note that the USA has signed but never ratified this treaty as we have.)
    Apart from updating our legislations, we must also educate our police officers some more about these international treaties that have the status of laws to us. My experience tells me they need it.
    Incarcerating a child in one of our “institutions” is akin to giving them a crash course in criminal behavior, in addition to the abuse they will have to withstand, (especially females) many times by those tasked with protecting them.