St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Staying away from the mechanics of the Child Justice Bill, Member of Parliament for St Mary’s North, the Hon. Minister Molwyn Joseph referred to the Act as historic. He suggested that it is one that is seeking to change the mindset of how we look at children. Joseph contended that it is in contrast to what transpired in the Lower House several years ago, with the amending of the Magistrate’s Court of Procedures Act.
Minister Joseph recollecting, said it was the position of the then attorney general that: “It was in the best interest of Antigua and Barbuda to establish a mechanism to arrest, jail, try and convict young people.” Additionally, Minister Joseph said that the current AG warned against that step, but it was ignored. He bemoaned the fact that in a short period, scores of young children, 12, 13, 14, were locked up in the prison. Empathetically, Joseph indicated that he had felt so strongly about that matter, he reached the point of staging a protest with other ministers. Joseph lamented seeing the young people chained, and it brought tears to his eyes.
Minister Joseph remembered the former AG saying that regardless of the crime they should be sent to jail, so they can get a taste, “so they can see what it is like.” “Children must not be jailed,” he argued while drawing reference to the scriptures which speak to the special place children hold in the eyes of Jesus. Borrowing from the Holy Bible, Minister Joseph stated that children are the greatest in the Kingdom of God.