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Indigenous Youth Now Free After Awaiting Trial For Seven Years

After being incarcerated for almost seven-years, nineteen-year-old Ian Henry, an indigenous youth of Baramita, Region One, is now free following an interception by the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Legal Aid Clinic and the Ministry of Public Security.

Henry was arrested and detained on a murder charge in 2011 when he was just thirteen years old. He was recently released after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) made a decision to nolle pros the case.

At a press conference today, at the Ministry’s Brickdam office, Henry recalled his years behind bars without being found guilty of a crime and awaiting trial. He disclosed that after being denied a secondary education, he is planning to attend a training school in order to attain a skill and reintegrate back into society.

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rights of the Child Commission (RCC), Amar Panday and UNICEF’s representative, Sylvie Fouet at the press briefing at the Ministry of Public Security, Brickdam.

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan recollected having the case months after he assumed office. The Rights of the Child Commission approached him for permission to visit the Juvenile Holding Centre at Sophia. Following the RCC’s visit Minister Ramjattan said he was “duty-bound” to ensure that the Juvenile Justice Bill becomes a reality.

RCC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Amar Panday explained that Henry’s case is just one of the many at the country’s juvenile institutions. Panday said that the organisation is eagerly awaiting the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Bill which examines the provisions of legal representation for children in conflict with the law.

UNICEF’s representative, Sylvie Fouet welcomed the new bill and assured that her organisation will continue to work with other groups to guarantee children are well represented.

The RCC and its partners are reviewing similar cases involving youths at the holding centre, the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) and youths being detained at the New Amsterdam and Timehri prisons.

By: Synieka Thorne.

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