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Stabroek News, Georgetown, 15 October 2010
Whipping expunged from juvenile laws
By Stabroek staff
Government passed two bills last night with opposition support which remove whipping from the law books and brings an end to corporal punishment at training schools across the country.
The Juvenile Offenders (Amendment) Act amends section 19 of the law and provides for the removal of whipping for any offence committed by children or young adults while the Training Schools (Amendment) Act repeals sections of the law which permitted whipping and flogging of children kept at those institutions.
Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee said that government also now assumes responsibility for children in those institutions by taking the burden off of parents and or guardians for their upkeep. Rohee called the provisions in the legislation which were repealed as "archaic". He said too that some of the amendments in the Training School Act were necessary in order for it to be compatible with the amendments in the Juvenile Offenders Act.
PNCR-1G MP Debra Backer offered her party's support for the amendments, but questioned how serious the administration is with respect to modernizing legislation because it has resisted rational calls for the establishing of a permanent Law Reform Commission. She charged that laws were being amended in an ad hoc manner.
Backer also questioned how the government is moving to end corporal punishment at training schools and in the regular public school system heads can still impose corporal punishment.
AFC MPs Khemraj Ramjattan and Latchmin Punalall slammed the government for bringing the amendments to the house without giving due credit to their former MP, Chantelle Smith who had piloted legislation years ago to remove corporal punishment in schools including training schools such as the New Opportunity Corps. Ramjattan acknowledged that the legislation was later passed but "with additional government amendments". AFC also supported the legislation.
With respect to the amendments, section 20 (1) of the Principal Training School Act had stated that any boy detained in school who wilfully neglects to conform to the regulations may for every offence be ordered by the headmaster or the person in charge to be whipped with such instruments as the Minister may prescribe. The punishment was not to exceed six strokes or for solitary confinement not to exceed one day.
Section 26 of the Act addressed the issue of a parent and or guardian maintaining a child who is detained for a sum of $3 dollars a week while Section 27 dealt with the mode of enforcing the maintenance liabilities of parents and guardians. Both sections have been repealed.
Additionally, Section 19 of the Principal Juvenile Offenders Act was amended to provide for the removal of whipping for any offence committed by children or young adults.
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