Phase Two of OECS juvenile justice reform project comes to A&B

Antigua and Barbuda will be beginning phase two of the project to reform the juvenile justice system in the country.

On OBSERVER AM yesterday, Gloria Septra Augustus said that the project is part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission plan to reform the laws of all independent members of the Eastern Caribbean.

She said that the current laws of the Eastern Caribbean are archaic, and there are several deficiencies in the justice system.

“First of all, we had very low ages of criminal responsibility, we had very little pre-trial diversion. We also signed a lot of conventions [to deal with children] and our laws do not reflect some of the spirit and intent of those conventions. The laws that we had, were very old laws,” she said.

She said that the project is in its second phase, which will be looking at coordinating the implementation of new legislation.

Augustus added that this will involve the sensitisation of police, prison officers and other stakeholders of the laws.

“In the first phase, we do not work with them (the police) but given that they are mentioned in the law several times, and they have roles and responsibilities in the law, they have to know [the changes in the legal system],” she said.

The OECS Commission, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has sought to reform family laws in the Eastern Caribbean, especially the juvenile justice system.