To the Government of Jamaica
C Ensure that Jamaican law conforms to international standards for the treatment of children, and in particular, that the Juveniles Act (as amended) and the Legal Aid Act of 1997 comply with international human rights law. Work to bring Jamaica's juvenile justice system into conformity with the international guidelines expressed in the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing Rules). A comprehensive Child Protection Act is currently being drafted to bring Jamaican law into conformity with international standards; this Act should be finalized and implemented.
Police Detention of Children:
C Immediately end the practice of detaining children in police lockup cells.
C If children continue to be held in police lockups, ensure that they at no time share cells with adult detainees.
C If children continue to be detained in police lockups, or if temporary police custody is unavoidable, children should under no circumstances be detained overnight.
C As a step towards ending the practice of detaining children in police lockups, enact measures to minimize the amount of police involvement with children. Police should not bear long-term responsibility for juveniles.
C As a step towards ending the practice of detaining children in police lockups, require police officers to notify Correctional Services and Children's Services immediately upon apprehending a criminally accused child or taking custody of a child "in need of care and protection."
C As a step towards compliance, require superintendents in charge of Jamaica's police lockups to permit unqualified access upon request by an independent monitoring agency empowered to inspect the facilities periodically to ascertain whether children are being improperly detained. Justices of the Peace, Jamaica's parliamentary ombudsman, or otheragents of comparable independence and community status, could be employed to serve in this regard.
C Establish institutions and procedures to expedite the investigation and punishment of police officers who commit abuses, and take immediate steps to eliminate police brutality, including enforcing stringent guidelines to govern the treatment of pretrial detainees.
C Maintain adequate records regarding the arrest and detention of children, including, inter alia, each child's name, date of birth, alleged crime or reason for detention, existing family members or guardians, place(s) of detention, the dates and reasons for transfer between institutions, and court history.
C The Ministry of Justice and National Security should order an immediate review of all children in police custody or remand centers with an eye toward promptly releasing those who pose no threat to public safety.
Children in Detention and Custody, Generally:
C Ensure that in all facilities housing or detaining children, staff are trained in the special needs of children, and treat children with respect and dignity.
C Protect children in state detention or custody from assaults and all forms of cruel, humiliating or degrading treatment by police, staff, or other detainees.
C Ensure that all institutions in which children are housed provide a safe and healthy environment for children. Correct any health code violations promptly.
C Provide medical evaluations and treatment for all children in state custody; maintain records of health status and medication given.
C In all facilities in which children are housed or detained, provide adequate programming and educational instruction to ensure that children are not spending their time without any activity. The purpose of programming and education is to prepare children for successful reintegration into society.
C Establish a clear prohibition on the use of corporal punishment in police lockups, schools, places of safety, children's homes and the Juvenile Remand Center.
C Establish grievance procedures for children in all institutions.
C Ask the U.N. Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Centre in Vienna for technical assistance to ameliorate the treatment of children in the justice system.
C If existing places of safety, children's homes and remand centers are inadequate to house the number of children requiring short or longer-term custody or care, develop additional placements that are appropriate for children.
C In particular, continue to explore alternatives to institutionalization, and expand community-based parole and placement options for children, particularly those apprehended for status offenses and non-violent crimes.
Access of Children to Counsel and to the Courts:
C Fully implement the Legal Aid Act of 1997, and ensure that all detained children are represented by attorneys, at government expense if a child is unable to afford an attorney.
C Provide children with regular access to their attorneys, in person or by telephone.
C Ensure that private attorneys assigned to provide legal aid to children accused of offenses discharge their responsibilities professionally and provide representation that safeguards the best interests of the child. Lawyers who mismanage, neglect or negligently handle the juvenile criminal cases they have been assigned should be subject to sanctions by the General Legal Counsel.
C The Legal Aid Clinic at Norman Manley Law School should be expanded in order to alleviate some of the caseload currently borne by private attorneys and the legal aid offices of Montego Bay and Kingston.
C Enforce the right of children to a speedy trial and, in particular, cease remanding children into police custody when trials are delayed because of the absence of police witnesses or other evidentiary factors beyond the child's control. Should police or other witnesses fail to appear as required, children should not be punished by further remands and indefinite detention.
C Judges in the family and juvenile courts should ensure that, when the remand of a child becomes strictly necessary, the child will be held at an appropriate institution for children. Under no circumstances should this determination of an "appropriate institution" be delegated to the Jamaican constabulary.
C Take steps to reduce the persistent backlog in the juvenile and family courts.
Other Recommendations to the Jamaican Government:
C The current Ministry of Justice and National Security was consolidated several years ago from the previously distinct Ministries of Justice and National Security. The government should consider separating the ministries again, because of the divergent, and at times contrary, prerogatives pursued by each.
C Institute programs to reduce juvenile crime and to improve relations between local communities and the Jamaican constabulary.
C Establish an interagency children's board to facilitate communication and coordination between and among the Jamaican Constabulary, Children's Services and Correctional Services.
To the Jamaican Constabulary
C Enforce the existing policy that requires police officers, whenever they detain a child temporarily in custody, to submit a written report immediately describing the exigent circumstances that necessitate this measure.
C Instruct officers to immediately transfer children "in need of care and protection" to places of safety.
C Ensure that children are not interrogated in the absence of lawyers.
C Improve communications facilities at remote and rural police lockups. Ensure that each, at a minimum, maintains some means of immediately contacting Children's Services.
C Provide training to police, both new recruits and current officers, that emphasizes the distinctive procedures and attitudes that should inform their treatment of children, both those in conflict with the law and those deemed "in need of care and protection."
C Prominently post rules relating to children in all police stations and ensure that all officers comply with them.
C Immediately institute measures to improve conditions in police lockups, including but not limited to:
C improving cell ventilation to ensure an adequate flow of fresh air;
C ensuring that cells are properly maintained and are clean and dry;
C ensuring that detainees receive plentiful clean water and fresh food adequate to their nutritional needs;
C providing soap, bedding material, and other basic sanitary necessities;
C ensuring that all prisoners receive at least one hour of exercise each day;
C initiating programs of education for longer-term detainees;
C ensuring that toilets and other sanitary facilities in lockups are kept clean and in good working order,
C ensuring that children are permitted to use the toilets as needed;
C ensuring that detainees receive adequate medical care and that a doctor visits regularly.
To the Department of Children's Services
C Assume responsibility for ensuring that police lockups are regularly inspected to ascertain whether children have been improperly detained. If necessary, enlist the assistance of well-respected and independent institutions, whether public, such as Justices of the Peace, or private, such as local church groups and community leaders.
C Keep the police apprised of current vacancies at children's homes and places of safety.
C Establish a twenty-four-hour hotline to facilitate immediate communication between police and children's services whenever a child has been apprehended or been found in need of care and protection.
C Cooperate with church groups and nongovernmental organizations to encourage greater community awareness of and assistance for children in need.
C Improve intake procedures at places of safety and children's homes, and in particular, inquire into the child's prior history in state institutions and the possible existence of relatives or guardians responsible for the child's well-being.
To the Department of Correctional Services
C Transfer all remanded children who do not require detention in a maximum security facility to places of safety and children's homes. The Juvenile Remand Center should be reserved strictly for children deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
C Regularly provide Children's Services with information concerning the number of vacancies available in the Juvenile Remand Center and the presence of children who may not (or no longer) require maximum security detention.
To the United Nations
C The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child should reexamine the treatment of children in police custody and institutions and make its best efforts to persuade Jamaica to ensure safe, healthy, and non-abusive treatment of children in the justice system.
C UNICEF should provide assistance to the government of Jamaica to improve the treatment of children in the justice system.
C The World Health Organization should investigate the conditions in which children are detained in unhealthy lockups.
C The U.N. Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Center should give technical assistance to the Jamaican government to correct existing problems in the juvenile justice system.
C The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment should visit Jamaica and investigate the treatment of children in the justice system.
To Donor Governments:
Donor governments should earmark assistance for:
C improving conditions in police lockups, remand centers, and other facilities for children;
C ending delays in handling cases of children in Jamaican courts;
C training police, care-givers and other staff members who deal with children in the justice system.