Acting Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart

The Caribbean needs to focus its efforts on the rehabilitation and reintegration of juvenile offenders back into society, rather than on vengeance, according to Acting Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart.

He was addressing a consultation on juvenile justice systems in the Caribbean held by the United Nations Children???s Fund (UNICEF).?? It?? was held in collaboration with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at UN House, Marine Gardens, yesterday.

Mr. Stuart said:?? ???We have to move away from the retributive system of justice.?? We have to move away from the desire for revenge and we have to work towards a view of justice that focuses on rehabilitating the offender… and the victim. We have concentrated more on trying to avenge those who have been wronged [rather] than trying to reform the wrongdoer.

???The restoration of the victim, the perpetrator and the families of [both] the victims and the perpetrators must be the focus of our efforts.???

The substantive Barbadian Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs suggested that alternative methods should be used in place of institutionalisation.

???We should try to avoid institutionalising our young people in these small and highly personalised societies. The stain left by institutionalisation bedevils and haunts that young person for the remainder of his or her life. Therefore, I think we have to find other means of dealing with juvenile deviance so that we can perform that task of restoration in a more authentic kind of way that achieves results that have durable value in society. Probation orders, in some cases, community service orders and other forms of non-custodial punishment, seem to me eminently more appropriate for the deviant juvenile than this penchant for ready incarceration,??? the Attorney General stated.

However, Mr. Stuart said that young people are ???the real victims??? who were often criticised by adults for their actions, when they were the ones who should take responsibility. ???The real victims in our societies are the large numbers of juveniles who have to look daily to the adult population for examples on how best to take instructions.???

???We like to say our young people are in crisis despite [the fact that] they are not in control of any of our institutions. It???s the adults that are in charge. Issues like domestic violence are not easy to erase from the memories of many of our young children, they are not the violent ones, but, they see it coming from adults. Their perceptions of reality are often shaped in their homes and what they see in their schools,??? he observed.

The conference was attended by delegates from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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