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Further amendments are coming to the Child Justice Act

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Further amendments are coming to the Child Justice Act, which was last amended
in 2018, as the government looks at ways to deal with the growing problem of
young men, some of whom are minors being charged with serious crimes.
Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin said the current Act allows for minors to be
charged as adults, but he wants to make a further proposal where parents will share
some culpability for the crimes their children commit.
The nature of these changes will have wide public and stakeholder participation
before going to Parliament for approval. Benjamin said he intends to hold a series
of meetings with stakeholders beginning next Tuesday, at a venue to be
Recently, there have been instances of serious crimes, such as rape and murder,
involving children as young as 13 in Antigua and Barbuda. However, the current
laws state that minors below the age of 12 cannot be held accountable for criminal
offenses, while those above 14 can only receive a maximum prison sentence of
three years.
Benjamin emphasized, that while all parties need to come together to decide on the
way forward, the government will no longer handle these young offenders with
leniency. He referred to them as hooligans who will be dealt with accordingly,
emphasizing the government’s commitment to maintaining law and order in
Antigua and Barbuda.
The Attorney General has acknowledged that some people believe the Child
Justice Act prevents the police from arresting juvenile offenders involved in
serious crimes but clarified that this is not the case.
Benjamin revealed that there have been discussions with lawyers and stakeholders
who have expressed concerns, prompting the government to review the law.
The aim is to ensure that when young individuals commit heinous offenses, they
are treated in the same manner as adults in Antigua and Barbuda.
Benjamin expressed his worry about the recent increase in criminal activities
involving young people, stating that they are committing most of these offenses.

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