Initiatives Attached to Child Diversion Law Will Help to Reduce Gangs –

Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, is confident that the new initiatives to be rolled out by the Government from the passing of the Child Diversion Act, 2018, will help to reduce the number of gangs operating in Jamaica. Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, is confident that the new initiatives to be rolled out by the Government from the passing of the Child Diversion Act, 2018, will help to reduce the number of gangs operating in Jamaica.Speaking at the Ministry’s ‘Child Diversion Programme Stakeholders’ Sensitisation Session’, at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in New Kingston on Friday (June 14), Mr. Chuck said unattached youth who are found guilty of engaging in illicit activities and are prone to be recruited by gang members, will be enrolled in various programmes and not just imprisoned and sent back into the society after serving sentences.“Once you do that [imprison them], you have really labelled them for life. When you go into the prisons, many are people who started crime from an early age and have not been diverted away from criminality and they end up being unable to function in modern society,” the Minister said.“What this Child Diversion Policy is intended to do is to capture our young children from an early age, to divert them away from illicit [and] lawless activities, and the intention is to neutralise the gangs in our society, because these are the children that the gangs capture. The dons use them for further illicit activities,” he added.In an effort to fully establish programmes associated with the Act, Minister Chuck said the Ministry is also setting up Parish Diversion Committees.“These Parish Diversion Committees will be responsible for assisting with the rolling out of the objectives of the new Child Diversion Act, 2018 in each parish. We are going to put a Child Diversion Officer in every parish, who will be at a Justice Centre, and there will be a Justice Centre in every parish. From that office, we are going to ensure that the policy is properly implemented, because this Child Diversion Policy will be a game changer in Jamaica,” the Minister said.He also noted that the Government has these objectives in place because it is determined to reach and assist vulnerable youth across the island.“The Government is very concerned about the use and abuse of our children. Our children are under siege in far too many communities. They’re victims, not only of their parents but of the community, and it’s time that we take charge and ensure that our children are properly protected,” the Minister said.Passage of the Child Diversion Act is to ensure that every child in conflict with the law is treated in a manner that recognises and upholds human dignity and worth, and that the child is diverted from engaging in deviant and delinquent behaviour.The Act specifies, among other things, the establishment of National and Parish offices and to mainstream child diversion into the justice system.The Stakeholder Sensitisation Session was geared towards presenting the provisions of the Act and plans for the implementation of the activities for the Act to Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and key justice stakeholders. Story Highlights Speaking at the Ministry’s ‘Child Diversion Programme Stakeholders’ Sensitisation Session’, at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in New Kingston on Friday (June 14), Mr. Chuck said unattached youth who are found guilty of engaging in illicit activities and are prone to be recruited by gang members, will be enrolled in various programmes and not just imprisoned and sent back into the society after serving sentences. “Once you do that [imprison them], you have really labelled them for life. When you go into the prisons, many are people who started crime from an early age and have not been diverted away from criminality and they end up being unable to function in modern society,” the Minister said. read more

Persons Living With HIVAIDS Encouraged to Join Support Groups

Story Highlights “We created a programme called ‘The Positive Health Dignity and Prevention Curriculum’, and we use it to train persons who are now serving at different levels in the HIV response,” he said, adding that some are working as community facilitators, and others are representing their communities on various Boards. Persons living with HIV/AIDS are being encouraged to participate in support groups that are working towards reducing the level of stigmatisation against persons with the virus, in an effort to ultimately improve their outcomes. The Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS Coordinator at the National Family Planning Board, Ainsley Reid, told JIS News that a number of initiatives have been undertaken to ensure that persons who are living with HIV are not disenfranchised. Persons living with HIV/AIDS are being encouraged to participate in support groups that are working towards reducing the level of stigmatisation against persons with the virus, in an effort to ultimately improve their outcomes.The Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS Coordinator at the National Family Planning Board, Ainsley Reid, told JIS News that a number of initiatives have been undertaken to ensure that persons who are living with HIV are not disenfranchised.“We created a programme called ‘The Positive Health Dignity and Prevention Curriculum’, and we use it to train persons who are now serving at different levels in the HIV response,” he said, adding that some are working as community facilitators, and others are representing their communities on various Boards.Mr. Reid said that his team also works closely with other agencies. “We are currently partnering with the Jamaica Council of Churches to roll out an anti-stigma programme which will deal with building the capacity of church leaders and congregants, so that they can be agents of change in their communities,” he said.Additionally, he said there is an ongoing programme with the Social Development Commission (SDC) where general community leaders are trained to influence conversations around social acceptance and working with people living with HIV.The Coordinator also shared that “another aspect of that programme is our work with the Office of the Public Defender to create more awareness around human rights and to influence how we treat each other from a position of dignity and respect”.Community Facilitator for the Jamaica Network for Zero Positive (JN Plus) South East Division (Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine and St. Thomas), Joan Stephen, also told JIS News that her organisation plays a vital role in addressing stigma and discrimination as well.“I communicate with persons in the region who are HIV positive. I use a database to check up on members to see how they are doing and if there are any issues, and I pass the information on to the relevant authorities to deal with it,” she said.She noted that her team looks at how persons are treated when they go to the clinic.“Many of them are put aside when they go there because they are HIV positive. They always complain that if they go to certain health centres, the doors are labeled so when they go in, other individuals know that they are HIV positive,” she explained.She added that JN Plus has capacity-building programmes where persons living with HIV are invited to come in and participate and share with others who are HIV positive.In that space they are comfortable and it helps them to learn to deal with stigma from each other, based on their experiences. read more