Social Transformation Minister, Harold Dalsan, has echoed concerns voiced by Attorney at Law, Mary Francis, about the dispensation of juvenile justice in Saint Lucia.
Dalsan spoke to reporters outside parliament today.
Mary Francis had this week noted that there is a discrepancy in the juvenile justice system here.
According to her, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Saint Lucia is a party, considers that someone under the age of eighteen is a child, while under Saint Lucia law a sixteen year old can be charged as an adult.
The Attorney at Law asserted that as a result, sixteen year olds in Saint Lucia are being sent to jail.
Minister Dalsan said the concerns voiced by Francis are legitimate.
But he disclosed that there is no “quick fix.”
Dalsan explained that Saint Lucia’s Juvenile Justice Reform project will take time and resources.
He observed that the resources are not going to come from taxpayers but from agencies like UNICEF.
“As long as those agencies are not forthcoming in making monies available we have to ride with the tide and go along with them and they too are very meticulous,” the Minister stated.
According to him, before committing funds the agencies have to ensure that certain things are done on the ground and consultants make an examination, write a report and present it to the funders before they are prepared to move.
Nevertheless Dalsan said the Juvenile Justice Reform project for this country is still being looked at with a consultation to be held shortly for all stakeholders, to discuss legislation to accompany the programme and other such matters.
Addressing the overall issue of the delivery of justice, he did not agree that justice has failed.
The Minister asserted that Saint Lucia is a small Third World country with limited resources.
He noted that a lot of work has to be done by the government, which is very concerned about delays in the justice system.
Dalsan also stated that the current administration is also concerned about the physical structure of courts and the dispensation of justice, and is grappling with the problem.