Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 3rd 2013 Contents A6
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Seventy-six per cent of children
at the St Michael s Home for Boys
are held for "status offences,"
which include truancy and breach
of school rules, or because they
were rebellious and brought
before the court by a parent or
guardian seeking assistance.
At the St Jude s School for Girls,
97 per cent are held for status
offences or safekeeping as a result
of themselves being victims of
At the Women s Prison at Gold-
en Grove, 92 per cent of the juve-
nile offenders are being held for
either status offences or safekeep-
ing because they have no parent
willing to provide for them.
These were the grim statistics
painted by Justice Minister
Emmanuel George at the youth
justice symposium at the Hyatt
Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
Saying these figures were largely
the result of socio-economic or
psychological problems and "not
criminal activity", George explained:
"What has evolved out of cir-
cumstance, rather than by design,
is a system where children who
commit status offences and who
are in need of the State s care and
protection are deprived of their
liberty and kept alongside those
who have committed minor and
even serious criminal offences."
On the delay in starting cases,
George said that was not peculiar
only to adult offenders awaiting trial.
He said during his recent visit
to the Youth Training Centre,
Golden Grove, the common com-
plaint was the long waiting period
for cases to start.
"One lad in particular said he
was charged for murder at 15, some
nine years ago. And at 24 he is no
closer to the start of his trial,"
He said such instances have
placed T&T at variance with
accepted international norms and
standards as the country was a
signatory to the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the
Child and the UN s standards and
norms on children in the criminal
"So change we must, not only
because it is our international obli-
gation to do so but also because
the well-being of our most vul-
nerable citizens are at stake.
"Children, by reason of their
physical and mental stage of matu-
rity, must be afforded our protec-
tion and care even when they come
into conflict with the criminal jus-
tice system. The likelihood of their
successful rehabilitation is much
higher than that of an adult who
has committed a similar infraction,"
He urged that stakeholders must
move beyond the criminalisation
of status offences and instead pro-
vide the social support and services
to address the socio-economic and
psychological needs of youths in
Children who committed
crimes, he added, must be treated
differently from those who were
in need of the State s care and pro-
"There needs to be a clear and
unequivocal distinction between
the two. Both groups should not
be housed together, since doing so
promotes the sitgmatisation, vic-
timisation and criminalisation of
those who are themselves not per-
petrators," George added.
A blackout in several parts of north
Port-of-Spain yesterday morning has
been blamed on a problem with power
lines servicing the Barataria sub-station.
Other areas affected included El
Socorro, Aranguez, downtown Port-
of-Spain, Woodbrook and Cascade.
The outage disrupted radio station sig-
nals and telephone lines.
An official at T&T Electricity Com-
mission (T&TEC) official told the T&T
Guardian the supply had been restored
to approximately 70 to 80 per cent of
customers hours after the blackout.
The electrical outage also caused sev-
eral other problems in the capital city,
among them tripping off fire alarms in
Alarms were tripped off at the Police
Administration Building, St Vincent
and Edward Street, the Chief Personnel
Officer s office on St Vincent Street
and the Unit Trust Corporation, Inde-
The power outage also caused the
complete shutdown of the Port-of-
Spain Magistrates and High Courts.
Only a handful of cases had already
begun when the blackout occurred, as
both courts open at 9 am.
Magistrates and judges waited for
almost an hour for electricity to be
restored before opting to adjourn the
cases. Shortly after 10 am, remand pris-
oners at both courts were placed in
prison transport trucks and returned
Among the cases that were delayed
was the trial of a dozen men accused
of kidnapping and murdering business-
woman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman. It
was adjourned to next Monday.
More witnesses need to come for-
ward with information regarding the
September 1 shooting of 25-year-old
Christopher Greaves by police offi-
The call came from Laventille East
MP Donna Cox as she spoke during a
Police Complaints Authority meeting
at the basketball court at Phase 2,
Beetham Gardens, yesterday.
Greaves was shot by police while
returning to his home from a nearby
Following the shooting residents
burned debris and engaged in violent
protests on the Beetham Highway and
the Priority Bus Route.
But despite being vocal and forceful
during protests, only a handful of res-
idents showed up to the meeting held
by the Police Complaints Authority
At 5 pm, when the meeting was
scheduled to start, only media and
Police Complaints Authority officials
When the meeting actually started
at 5.45 pm, less than 20 residents were
present, including Greaves mother,
Laventille East MP Donna Cox called
on residents of Beetham Gardens to
come forward and give information
that could assist with investigations.
PCA director Gillian Lucky told res-
idents they needed to bring all infor-
mation of misconduct by police officers
to the authority.
"It is either we are going out and
fight for justice or we prepare to be
cowards," Lucky added.
She told residents she would not dis-
cuss the PCA s investigation into
Greaves death until it was completed
but added she had several concerns
about the reports she had seen thus
far.Lucky also complained that there
were too many "evidential deficiencies"
in police killings.
"Since 2010, we have called for the
files of 46 alleged police killings," she
She said the PCA was still awaiting
answers from the Commissioner of
Police on most of the cases.
George paints grim
picture of rebel kids
Justice Minister Emmanuel George, right, with Communication Minister Gerald Hadeed and Junior Minister
Gender Youth and Child Development Raziah Ahmed chat during the opening ceremony of the Ministry of
Justice's youth justice symposium, Reforming our Youth Justice System, at Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain,
yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Witnesses scarce during
probe into Beetham shooting
City blackout shuts down courts
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