GEORGETOWN, Guyana–October 18th, 2020-Director of the Childcare and Protection Agency, Ms. Ann Greene has called for better treatment for young people who are arrested.
“There is a Juvenile Justice Act and it says that a child is criminally responsible at the age of 14 but it does not say, that a child under the age of 14 cannot be charged. However, our mandate at the Childcare and Protection Agency is to work along with the Guyana Police Force to establish processing centres to properly handle juvenile matters, rather than to place a minor into a jail cell,” she said.
When a child is picked up by the police, the processing centers will provide an opportunity for the social worker and police office to carry out a thorough investigation to prepare a pre-charge report.
“A juvenile must be held accountable for an act and when encountered by the police they must be placed in a system where rehabilitation can be administered immediately. Also, the holding area must be child-friendly,” Green stated.
Once in the processing centers, the Director mentioned that juveniles will undergo psychological evaluation to establish the possible reasons for their actions.
“We need to know their education level, their living condition and also acquire information to reach out to parents or guardians. This will be enough time to assess cases and get an understanding when the matter is put before the court,” the Director said.
Another area the Director pointed out was the removal of children who are begging on the streets, specifically at stop lights around Georgetown. She urged parents and the public to ensure children are off the streets and kept in their homes.
“We are holding the parents accountable, they must keep their children off the streets, the children are being exposed and exploited, persons are saying all manners of things to them, people can also take them away, it’s a risk being at street corners begging,” she warned.
Ms. Greene relayed that an exercise to remove unaccompanied children from the streets was conducted last Friday. The children were held at the Agency’s head office while social workers contacted their parents and guardians.