In order to accomplish this, the Government has committed to focus investment in the preventive-intervention model as against the punishment-prosecutorial model, explained Liburd.
“We know all too well the stigmatizing and unforgiving manner, the intolerance with which our children are treated without due consideration to the unstable homes from which they come. Such environment open doors to dangerous and violent pathways for young people and erode their options to positive choices. Indeed, it is a challenging task but an achievable one with creative and collaborative partnerships to effect attitudinal changes so woefully needed to welcome back our children who are in conflict with the law to their families and communities,” she told officials and invited guests.
She noted that Article 40 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child provides that every child accused of having infringed the penal law, shall be treated in a way which takes into account the child’s age and desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration in society. Sub-section 3 requires state parties to promote measures such as diversion procedures, supervision orders, probation, counselling, and training programs to ensure that they are dealt with appropriately.
“St. Kitts and Nevis made a commitment to upholding these articles in 1990 when we signed and ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1990. This reminds us that we are the major duty bearers – each of us present here playing different roles. And so, as we prepare to design a comprehensive plan with a focus on treatment modalities for our children, we have to be equally committed to collective responsibility” said Minister Liburd,
She said the Government of St Kitts and Nevis has been making small steps to shift the focus towards children and the New Horizon Rehabilitation Centre is one such example.
Citing the United States Government for recognizing their efforts and making the donation of equipment to the Government, Minister Liburd expressed deep gratitude for the contribution.
“The range of equipment and furniture on display would go a long way to create the environment needed for these children and provide a good start for the grand opening of this centre in the very near future. I assure you that we would endeavour to care, protect and maintain them as we are well aware that our comprehensive outlay for guiding and supporting young children would need many resources – human and physical – and better planning,” said Minister Liburd.
Thanking the distinguished ambassador Larry Palmer and his team, along with the local social workers, policy makers, the judicial officers, the police officers and other stakeholders, Minister Liburd said that the handing over is an “unfolding of a vision for our children which is ensuring that we remain true to the best interests of the child.”
She said the new structure which is still to be officially open, is expected to serve as a beacon of hope for children who come into conflict with the law.