Bar Association ‘deeply concerned’ by report regarding treatment of student

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Bar Association ‘deeply concerned’ by report regarding treatment of student

Following is a statement by the Barbados Bar Association on conditions at the Government Industrial School

“The Barbados Bar Association (the ‘BBA’) is deeply concerned about the report in the 14th March, 2021 issue of the Sunday Sun Newspaper regarding the treatment of a student at the Government Industrial School (‘GIS’), and other subsequent reports appearing in the Press on the topic of the GIS.

“The treatment of our young citizens and the conditions described in the reports are more than ‘unfortunate’, they are a violation of the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution, especially the right to be free from cruel and inhumane treatment; they are contrary to the International Human Rights Standards that we have agreed to maintain in accordance with various International instruments.

“The Government of Barbados is responsible for ensuring that every child under their care is properly provided for and systems are implemented to ensure their rehabilitation. The BBA has observed the reports surfacing over the past week or so, and listened to the promises made by the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs this past weekend (Saturday 20th March, 2021).

“The many reports indicate that the issues at the GIS are not isolated to the most recent reports, but are systemic. Members of the BBA have long expressed the view that the current system does not provide adequate safeguards for the wellbeing of juvenile offenders and is not fit for purpose.

“While the BBA is glad to hear that an investigation was conducted into the most recent reported incident, and that changes both to the Board and to the prevailing legislation are in the offing, what is also required is a paradigm shift in perspective and understanding of the underlying domestic and societal issues that lead to ‘wandering’ and other juvenile offences in order to effect change at a ‘whole of society’ level. We must treat to the causes as well as the cures.

“In this regard, the BBA wholly supports the #ProtectOurGirlsCampaign and eagerly awaits the passage of the promised new holistic suite of legislation as well as the manifestation of that paradigm shift by way of the actions that must be taken immediately to ensure the complete and holistic reformation of the system that presently exists for the management of troubled juveniles.

“The BBA is committed to assisting with this process and will be soliciting the views of its members as soon as the new draft legislation is available for review and comments to the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs.” (PR)