Government has plans to construct Juvenile courts throughout Guyana, with one likely in Georgetown and another next year in either Berbice or Essequibo.
This is according to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, who was the keynote speaker at a sensitization workshop on Monday.
Ramjattan noted that an analysis of the cost involved will have to be done. But the plan is to have these special courts spread across Guyana, but in a phased manner.
“We want a special kind of special Magistrate’s Courts where you’re going to have children solely being dealt with. But of course we cannot build all over the place so we are going to be starting in Georgetown and then we’re going to go to Berbice, then Essequibo, Linden and probably Lethem. And so it must take a phased implementation, that costs money too. The staffing of those Magistrate’s Courts because the judiciary will say that we need some more money in view of this paradigm shift as it were. So all of these things are so important to ensure of the to ensure of the actual realisation of the actual juvenile justice regime” Ramjattan disclosed.
Four magistrates including Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, had attended a study tour in another jurisdiction to observe the operations of their Children’s Court back in 2017.
The tour was intended to show the best practices and the pitfalls to ensure that when Guyana’s system is efficient and adheres to international standards.
Currently, all matters involving juveniles are held in camera. Consequently, members of the public are not allowed in the chambers.
In addition, strict rules govern the publication of information that involves juveniles.
The Juvenile Justice Act was passed in the National Assembly earlier this year.
The Act repeals the ancient 1931 Juvenile Offenders Act and the Training Schools Act, abolishing offences like truancy and wandering.