(ZIZ News) — Parliamentarians from across the OECS are meeting at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, this week, to develop policies, plans and projects that focus on children’s rights.
The event is dubbed the “First Children’s Rights Symposium for Parliamentarians to Promote Greater Application of Human Rights Standards in Policy, Law and Programme Formulation”.
Director of the Social and Sustainable Development Division at the OECS Commission, Bentley Brown said the meeting aims to promote greater application of human rights standards in policy formulation for children, especially those who have broken the law.
“Today, we will get a clear picture of the status of juvenile justice within the region and how it aligns with international standards. This will set the tone for the next two days as we deliberate about the various methods of juvenile justice other than the most preferred and commonly used punitive methods,” he said.
UNICEF Representative, Khin Sandi-Lwin outlined the principles which the participants have been urged to put into action.
“The detention or imprisonment of a child, up to 18 years, in the international definition of a child, should only be used as a measure of last resort and the shortest appropriate period of time. Most of you in this room believe in that. Laws and regulations and policies should be adapted accordingly with the professionals trained the community-based alternatives established where they do not exist,” she said.
The local Minister of State Responsible for Community Development, the Hon. Wendy Phipps supported Sandi-Lwin in the call for discussions to re-examine the legislative and social structures related to the youth.
She said, “Advocating that we use the two days to look at what is our practice in our individual member states, to share best practices that might exist across the member territories as alternatives to prison and also what can be done in terms of strengthening families and offering proper guidance in terms of parenting.”
The meeting is jointly organised by the OECS and UNICEF and is being held under the theme “Child Protection, Child Development, Child Justice – A Human Rights Based Approach”.