UWI student helping to protect children in police custody 

As a young person, I’ve always been interested in advocacy but after numerous efforts could never find the right fit. I always wanted to find an issue that yes I care about, but that I could also lend my skills to ensure that my contribution does mean something.

Thankfully, I’ve found that something in the work of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), and for the past seven months I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from representatives of this organisation; while gaining first hand exposure to a huge range of issues that continue to negatively affect Jamaicans, especially our children and youth.

Currently, I am conducting ongoing research on children in conflict with the law, and primarily assist with data gathering and analysis – looking at the number of children aged 12-18 years who are detained on a weekly basis across the island; the purported reasons and duration of detainment and the status of their cases.

The objectives of the project seek to recognize the pitfalls of our judicial system in relation to children where: (1) they are remanded in police custody for extended periods; (2) there are delays in assigning Child Development Agency (CDA) Officers to children detained for ‘care and protection’ or for being ‘uncontrollable’, and (3) the failure to bring them to court within the 48 hours stipulated by the Child Care and Protection Act (2004).

What I enjoy most about serving at JFJ is not being limited to one or two issues, thus being able to work on matters that I am passionate about, while developing new interests. Over the past few months I had opportunities to engage in discussions about environmental concerns, the reform of our justice system and student rights, to name a few.

Now a second-year law student, I am privileged to engage the law outside of the classroom in such a practical way. There have been instances where my input was sought for ongoing cases, and on issues of national concern, and I have engaged in discussions about the limitations of our constitution and the way forward for reform. I have been given room to grow into a better advocate, and an avenue to further represent Jamaica, specifically our youth.

The future of Jamaica, our development as individuals and as a country, depends on all of us realizing that human rights impact all of us every day – and not only when a horrific incident of abuse occurs. Respecting these everyday rights can only come through knowledge of the rights we have as human beings, and the correct way to exercise them.

My hope for Jamaica is that we will evolve into a nation where justice is the norm, rights are upheld, our Charter of Fundamental Rights protects ALL people, and our laws and institutions reflect same.  Every day, in small but deliberate ways, I actively advocate towards a Jamaica for Justice; a Jamaica which is inclusive of ALL.

This is the final blog in a series for Youth Month in November, celebrated under the theme of ‘Energising YOUth’:

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  1. This was quite inspirational. I find your optimism for Jamaica refreshing and I can sense your dedication to sparking real, tangible change in our justice system. You are a Jamaican gem, continue to ignite hope and passion in others through your own battle for change.