Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 20, 2016 (SKNIS): Reforms in the juvenile justice system in St. Kitts and Nevis have been welcomed by the Minister responsible for Community Development and Social Services, Honourable Eugene Hamilton, who praised the transformative work being done at the New Horizons Rehabilitation Center.
He made the comments on Wednesday (May 18), while delivering remarks at the closing ceremony for the local segment of a four-year Juvenile Justice Reform Project (JJRP) sponsored by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Minister Hamilton suggested that every OECS member state “faces similar challenges with regard to preventing the problem of juvenile delinquency and ensuring that children in conflict with the law have their rights respected and protected by our justice system.” He said the vision for reform must see a new system based on the development of four pillars: “legal reform, capacity building in system administration, system modernization, and improving civil society linkages in the delivery of children and youth services.”
Minister Hamilton said these pillars will help to ensure that children are not abused or harmed while in custody, equipped with skills to be successful and productive, and have positive attributes and character development that results in enhanced public safety.
“I am proud to say that to date, this project has contributed to that reformation of the juvenile sector,” he said.
The community development minister highlighted the recent graduation of two former residents of New Horizons, who now serve the nation in the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force. He also saluted residents who would have sat and passed CXC examination.
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Laura Griesmer, lauded St. Kitts and Nevis for being the first of three countries under the JJRP to pass a model Child Justice Bill into law. She described New Horizons as a “symbol of positive change in the way youth are supported” and credited the government for its achievements in this area.