The project is being undertaken by the Ministry of Social Transformation, Local Government and Community Empowerment, and involves a number of aspects, all geared at improving the island’s juvenile justice system.
Among its main undertakings is the legislative review of law to ensure that legislation is responsive to current issues, according to a press release.
According to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Transformation, Juliana Alfred, institutional capacity, human resource development are among other aims of the JJRP. Finding comprehensive interventions to “mend deficiencies” is also another one of the project’s mandates.
“These outputs that are coming out of the Juvenile Justice Reform Project will allow Saint Lucia to deal with the reform and rehabilitation of juveniles in a holistic way. So we are very happy to be a part of this initiative, and we are hoping that through the continued support of USAID, it will be a longstanding partnership,” Alfred said.
Further, the JJRP goes further to addressing problems in juvenile justice by outlining a national parenting framework to strengthen the family systems of vulnerable juveniles.
Project Coordinator Lyndell Archibald said through the programme, assistance is being provided to the Court Diversion Programme, the Boys Training Centre (BTC), and the Upton Gardens Girls Centre.
“One of the key things we were able to do is to assist the Ministry of Legal Affairs with court recording equipment that will be placed at three of our courtroom locations on island to assist with expediting the processing and documentation of cases. A second activity we have funded is the provision of equipment that would allow juveniles to give testimony from a remote location, to decrease intimidation when facing perpetrators in court,” she said.
Additionally, the Boys Training Centre has received tools and equipment for its vocational programmes in welding, woodwork, auto mechanics and agriculture, to allow tutors to provide more efficient rehabilitation through hands-on training, the release said.
Manager of the BTC Leonard Terrence said the BTC has taken on a standardisation of its skills training offerings so that boys will be able to attain regional certification through the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) examination scheme.
“The boys are actually using some of these tools already and we can see that it has made a huge difference in the execution of the instruction, the level of participation of the wards, and the skills that are being developed through the programme; and in the next few months we will be providing the certification programme to enable our boys to be qualified as skilled workers,” Terrence said.
The USAID-funded JJRP supports the Ministry of Social Transformation, and also provides benefits for other sectors of government including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.