Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 16, 2018 (SKNIS): Uniformed security forces and service providers in Juvenile Justice in St. Kitts and Nevis comprising of Police, Prison and Defence Force officers are currently attending a training workshop at the Police Training Complex in Basseterre with the aim of being sensitized on juvenile justice matters including the Child Act of 2012.
The May 14-25 training is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services; the Ministry of National Security; and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission.
Janelle Lewis, Acting Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services, applauded the OECS Mission and USAID for coming on board and ensuring that law enforcement officers receive the necessary training needed to deal with juveniles.
She noted that St. Kitts and Nevis made a bold step as it was one of the first in the region to pass into legislation the model laws of the OECS which included the Child Justice Act. She added that many challenges arose with respect to the administering of the legislation, hence one of the reasons why it was important to have persons trained so as to move further ahead with Juvenile Justice Reform in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“We have many questions and we are sure that the Act is not enough. The frontline workers have to have the capacity; the know-how to effectively bring about that change was intended by the new Act,” she said, while appealing to participants to learn all they can during the training. “If you don’t understand the underlying principles of the Act, if you are unfamiliar with the clauses of the Act and your respective role, this training is for you.”
Magistrate Gloria Augustus of the OECS Commission, shared similar sentiments and noted that change is necessary especially when dealing with justice reform.
“When we speak of reform we speak of change, not business as usual. Some changes get things worse and others get things better but change always creates an opportunity,” said the magistrate. “The level of benefits from the change is highly dependent on how we respond to it.”
Superintendent Lyndon David of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, noted that the training was timely and extremely important as authorities must be aware of the procedures that should be followed when dealing with juveniles who come into contact with the law.
“As a result, I do hope that today’s session and henceforth will be impactful on you so that by the time you leave here all of you will have that knowledge and the capability in terms of dealing with juveniles whether they come in conflict with the law… but as persons who are in need of some form of assistance,” he said, adding that it is best to interact with them before they enter the system because there are a number of challenges that can be developed once they enter.
He implored participants to be attentive and interactive as what they learn as this will redound to the benefit of all.
“I encourage therefore that you listen attentively, ask questions, make suggestions and give your opinion. These will assist in the further development of the juvenile justice system right here in our federation and by extension throughout the Caribbean region,” said Superintendent David, while adding that he extended it regionally because certain policies and programmes implemented in St. Kitts and Nevis are adopted by other countries in the region. “I do hope that at the end of this session that you will definitely display what you learned.”
The training is a component of the Juvenile Justice Reform Project stage two. It is funded jointly by USAID, OECS Commission and the six independent states of the OECS, namely, Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; Grenada; Saint. Lucia; St. Kitts and Nevis; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.