Put the laws to protect Barbados’ children in place faster Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

A call is being made for the speedy enacting of laws to protect juveniles in Barbados.

Speaking in reference to the wards of GIS at the time, the pending Child Justice Legislation Act if laid will be to the benefit of the island’s young citizens.

Chair of the GIS departmental inquiry panel and former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Oral Williams said in the findings the panel has identified the need to accelerate the process of enacting legislation related to juvenile justice, to give the required legal status to the recommended reform. Noting that the existing legislation dates back to 1926, he pointed out that a new Child Justice Legislation Act was drafted in 2019, but was yet to be laid before Parliament. That legislation, he added, was awaiting companion legislation governing child protection.

“The inquiry panel is of the view that the implementation of the appropriate legislation would make it easier for the institution to follow the United Nations rules,” he said.

This was one of three concerns highlighted in the concluded departmental inquiry of the Government Industrial School (GIS).

Another concern raised was that the educational requirements of the residents were not being adequately met, and there was little evidence to suggest that an academic, technical, vocational, or physical instruction programme was provided.

According to Williams, the inquiry recommended that full-time and part-time teachers with academic qualifications should be employed and teaching done in mixed ability groups.

The mental health issues of residents also presented another area of concern for the panel, and a recommendation was made for the institution to have a dedicated medical unit comprising a team of doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and nurses.

As it relates to discipline at the institution, there is a recommendation that there be a move away from a punitive form of punishment to one which seeks to rehabilitate those under the care of the Government, through a system of rewards and sanctions.