Juvenile justice reform under fire

Attorney at Law, Mary Francis, has called for urgent juvenile justice reforms in Saint Lucia citing the case of a pregnant teenager who has been sent to Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF).

Recalling that the issue of juvenile justice reform has been the subject recently of an OECS workshop here, Francis dismissed the discussions as a joke.

Francis, who is Coordinator of the Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights, observed that Saint Lucia is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

However she noted that there is a discrepancy since the convention considers that someone under the age of eighteen is a child, while Saint Lucia law stipulates that the age is sixteen.

The Attorney at Law asserted that as a result, sixteen year olds in Saint Lucia are being sent to jail.

“Right now the matters before the court family court dealing with young girls fifteen years who are pregnant at Bordelais and then have to be going up and down to court,” Francis told the Times.

She felt that the situation was ironic because of the talk about juvenile justice reform.

Without going into detail, Francis disclosed that the case of the pregnant teenager was only one she has heard about in the last week.

She told the Times that there were many disturbing cases of young people being affected and not receiving justice from the system.

“It is really a shame that this is the state of things of Saint Lucia when you have so-called educated people in government who know all the problems but they turn a blind eye,” Francis declared.