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Wednesday, January 11, 2006 

Juvenile Justice Forums
By Government of belize Press Office
Posted: Jan 9, 2006 14:07 UTC

BELMOPAN - The Community Rehabilitation Department with the assistance of UNICEF held a series of juvenile justice forums with a view to discuss the challenges of crime and violence confronting children, adolescents, and youths, and to explore possible solutions from their perspectives.

The forums were titled: Youth Speaking-out on Crime, Violence and Opportunities. A cross section of youths was invited to the forums which were held in every district along with a selective number of adults mainly to be observers of the process and discussions.

Personnel from the magistracy, police, and community workers/activists made presentations to inform participants on specific topics relating to Belize’s Juvenile Justice System.

A highlight of the event was the testimonials shared by youths who had come in conflict with the law. They gave accounts of their experiences while in the justice system and post their conflict with the law.

Following the presentations and panel discussions, participants were grouped and given topics to debate and were asked to make recommendations to improve conditions for Belizean Youths with respect to crime and violence and the Juvenile Justice System. These were shared in a plenary session.

The following recommendations represent strong commonalities highlighted in all six districts: 1) Status offences should not be abolished but need to be addressed in a more comprehensive way. 2) Strengthening of the family unit for children in conflict with the law. 3) Encouraging sporting activities among out-of-school youths combined with job opportunities. 4) Increased training for the Police, Magistrates, and Social Workers on rights–based approach to juvenile justice, child development, public relations techniques, and stress management. 5) There is a general need to reduce/eliminate rights violations against youths in conflict with the law.

Furthermore there is a general view that not enough is being done to assist high-risk youths (out of school youths, unemployed youths, and youths with substance dependence).

Participation by District: District # of participants Belize 98 youths, 15 adults Toledo 105 youths, 12 adults Cayo 45 youths, 8 adults Stann Creek 102 youths, 14 adults Orange Walk 74 youths, 8 adults Corozal 92 youths, 15 adults The Community Rehabilitation Department takes this opportunity to thank all participants and those involved in making the forums informative and successful.

Contact:
Fermin Olivera
Director Community Rehabilitation Department
Telephone: 223-2948 223-2716

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