Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Suffer the children
Entrenched in the Constitution are the rights to exist without discrimination for reasons of race, origin, colour, religion or sex; and the right of the individual to equality of treatment from public authorities in the exercise of their functions.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which T&T is a signatory, defines the child as a person below the age of 18. It prohibits discrimination irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
In that convention the signatories agreed to take measures to protect children against all forms of discrimination or punishment based on their status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of their parents, legal guardians, or family members. At the youth symposium held at the Hyatt last week, the Minister of Justice, Emmanuel George, expressed his alarm at the “heart-rending” institutionalised gender bias with respect to educational opportunities for girl offenders.
The minister regretted that the criminal justice system made no distinction in its treatment between children who committed a criminal offence and those in need of social assistance. He mentioned the criminalising of childhood conduct such as truancy, breach of school rules and being “out of control,” and that girls are more likely to be held for so-called “status offences,” which arise from psychological and social-economic problems.
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