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Human Rights Watch Welcomes Release of Children from Jamaican Police Lockups

Human Rights Watch commended the government of Jamaica for acting swiftly to remove children from police lockups.

"We're encouraged that the government is taking our report seriously and acting quickly to protect the rights of these children," said Jo Becker, Children's Rights Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch. "The immediate removal of all children from the lockups is a very positive step forward."

The organization also welcomed other initiatives announced Tuesday by Senator Maxine Henry-Wilson, Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister. These changes include the appointment of an officer to monitor cases of children being taken to lockups, the establishment of a 24-hour hotline to help ensure that Children's Services is notified when police take a child into custody, and the creation of an interagency working group to facilitate communication and coordination between relevant government agencies.

"We hope that the initiatives being undertaken by the government will help end the appalling abuses that children have endured," said Becker. "We urge the government to ensure that these are lasting policy changes that will be enforced and monitored."

Human Rights Watch encouraged the Jamaican government to allow unqualified access to lockups by non-governmental and community organizations to ascertain whether children are improperly detained. The organization also encouraged efforts to guarantee that all detained children receive legal representation.

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