Monday, August 27, 2012, Kingston, Jamaica - In the context of the beginning of the new school term, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is raising the issue of the educational instruction for children in conflict with the law. All children in conflict with the law are entitled to receive appropriate educational instruction. We believe that this is an essential part of the rehabilitative process that must form the core and focus for children who are held by the state as being in conflict with the law. We are extremely concerned about two specific groups of children:-
In this vein, we call on the relevant authorities for an assurance that:
i) By September 2nd, the day before the new academic year commences, there will be no children in police lockups and instead all children in conflict with the law will be placed in appropriate facilities with appropriate educational instruction; and
ii) Children being held in juvenile remand and correctional facilities will, as of the beginning of the new school year, be provided with the education that they have the right to receive as stated by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Jamaica is a signatory.
Therefore we are again calling on the following to respond urgently to this situation:
- the Minister of National Security, who has responsibility for Corrections and police lockups;
- the Minister of Youth and Culture, who has responsibility for children;
- the Children’s Advocate, with responsibility to advocate on behalf of children;
- the Child Development Agency, which has responsibility for all children in Jamaica.
We add to this list, the Minister of Education, Ronald Thwaites, knowing his commitment to education as a right for children and his interest in children in conflict with the law.
Children in conflict with the law face great odds to be successful. It is not our role as the adults in the society to make it more difficult for them to succeed; instead we must lower the odds and provide them with opportunities to become responsible members of our country. The State and its agencies, which have placed these children in these facilities, must lead in this regard.