Regional youth forum stresses need for restorative justice

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Tarun Butcher, Moderator, Session One, Day, delivers a summary of the session.
Tarun Butcher, Moderator, Session One, Day, delivers a summary of the session. Also in photograph is CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, Dr. Douglas Slater

The connection of crime and violence to drugs, legal and illegal; the need for “restorative justice” and understanding the dynamics at the community level to ensure targeted interventions, formed part of the discussions at the Regional Forum on Youth Crime and Violence now underway in Georgetown, Guyana.

The discussions were held during the Session on Youth Gangs and Violence which was co-moderated by St. Kitts and Nevis Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Youth, Hon Shawn Richards, and  CARICOM Youth Ambassador and Vice Dean for Regional Initiatives, Tarun Butcher.

Among the take-home messages were that new methods and strategies  were needed for youth programmes, and  that faith-based organisations should play a more  active role  in the Community.

Youth Forum participants
Youth Forum participants

The family plays the greatest role in keeping youth from gangs….[but] faith-based organisations must play a big part in helping young people who are `messed up’, said Ewort Williams of  the Church on the Bridge Ministry; a faith-based programme which has as its primary objective helping to prevent youth crime, particularly those related to  gangs.

Ms. Myrna Bernard, Director, Human Development, delivering a PowerPoint presentation
Ms. Myrna Bernard, Director, Human Development, CARICOM Secretariat, delivering a PowerPoint presentation

The need for restorative justice was a major message of the Session, in which by Guyana’s Acting  Chief Justice, Justice Yonette Cummings, and Guyana’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Seelall Persaud, participated.

Not everyone on a drug-related offence needs to be incarcerated,” said Esther Best of the National Drug Council of Trinidad and Tobago.

If we continue to  arrest our young people for what is a development issue, we would have a cohort of young people who would not have jobs,” among other social ills, she added.

The two-day Forum at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre is an outcome of the CARICOM/Spain Reducing Youth on Youth Violence programme, now being piloted in five Member States. The Forum wraps up this evening and its recommendations will be considered at the Twenty-ninth meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development on Youth and Culture which takes place on 3-4 March 2016, in Georgetown, Guyana.

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