A Vulnerability Assessment of the Juvenile Justice System in Belize, 2007

A Vulnerability Assessment of the Juvenile Justice System in Belize, 2007
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    The JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM –  Belize, c.a.  A  Vulnerability  ASSESSMENT     THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM - BELIZE, C.A….   An Assessment  ii Published by the Government of Belize through the Ministry of Human Development, Local Government and Labour’s Community Rehabilitation Department. Written by Diana Marian Shaw The author extends sincere thanks to the many persons who were interviewed and who shared their stories. A special thanks to the nurses, doctors, teachers, school managers, social services practitioners, magistrates, policemen and policewomen and all those who gave their time and contributed toward the publication of this book. This report has been published with the technical and financial support of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the National Committee for Families and Children. First Published: 2007 Any part of this report may be freely reproduced. Prior permission is not necessary but acknowledgement would be appreciated.    Table of Contents Introduction i Executive Summary ii CHAPTER 1 RESEARCH TOPIC Research Question 3 Study Objectives 3 Purpose of the Study 4 Major Tasks to be Accomplished 4 CHAPTER 2 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK Background 6 Demography 6 Economy 7 Family Life 9 Definition of Concepts 11 C H A P T E R 3 QUALITATIVE METHODOLOGY The Methodology 12 Objectives 14 Information Sources 15 Chapter 4 LITERATURE REVIEW International Conventions 17 Local Legislation 19 Local Policy/Procedures, Documents And Reports 27 CHAPTER 5 STAKEHOLDERS AND AGENCIES  –  FINDINGS CRD 31 Police 43 Judicial/Legal Sector 52 Custodial Institutions 61 Education Department 70 Community 73 C H A P T E R 6 RECOMMENDATIONS Legislative Amendments 75 Policy Changes 82 Public Education 90 Training 91 Resources 92 Structural Adjustments 95 Appendix A 97 Appendix B 125 Appendix C 127 Acronyms 162 References 163  JUVENILE JUSTICE INTRODUCTION In 2001 the Community Rehabilitation Department (CRD) was established with the passing of the Penal System Reform (Alternative Sentences) Act. This Department has the primary responsibility of developing the programs and structural components to enable the functioning of the alternative sentences scheme established by the act for first time offenders and  juveniles. The alternative sentences act seeks to establish a scheme whereby juveniles who come in conflict with the law are protected from infringement of their legal rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) makes provision for the treatment of children and youth who come in conflict with the administration of justice as follows: “Every child shall be protected from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and, unlawful or arbitrary detention 1 . In addition, article 39 provides that every effort be taken to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society, child victims of any form of violence, neglect, exploitation or abuse. Finally, article 40 seeks to ensure that children and youths who are accused of, being held for or charged with a crime, are extended the same rights of representation and appeal as any adult in Belize; from arrest to sentencing. It also requires that a distinct  juvenile justice system be established for juveniles , which stresses positive rather than punitive motivation. These articles under the CRC seek to ensure that while children and youths take responsibility for the offences they commit, they are not placed in situations where harm is caused to them or where their rights are breached. Since the evolving capacities of these children who commit crimes are still being developed, every effort must be made to ensure their humane treatment and well-being and also that they have opportunities for reform so that actions taken by them in their youth do not unfairly mar their prospects for career opportunities and full participation in their communities as adults. 1  U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37.
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