The Coordinator of the Justice Sector Development Programme (JSDP) Madam Sarah Lewis has attributed the prevalence of juvenile delinquency in Sierra Leone to poverty.
She said the problem of under age children is of serious concern to her organization , as juvenile delinquency is common among unemployed youths including teenagers who idle their time in ghettoes and ataya cafe .
She added that most children have dropped out of school as a result of inadequate parental care due to poverty.
She was reacting to a question posed to her by this medium, with regards juvenile offences, which ranges from raping, drug abuse, murder and other erroneous crimes perpetuated by some juveniles in the Country.
With the enactment of the Child Rights Act, she said that, they have developed a pilot project for Bombali and Moyamba Districts, where Task Forces have been formed with logistic supports to identify some of the areas of juvenile delinquencies in order to address them.
She confirmed that her office is currently working with some Line Ministries and Departments, and these include: the Ministry of Justice; Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs; Local Government; Internal Affairs; Police; Prisons; ACC; Office of the Ombudsman; Law Reform Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone.
On JSDP strategy to overcome some of the juvenile delinquencies in the country,
she disclosed that, they are doing a number of structural projects around the Country, such as: constructing Prisons, Remand Homes and Approved Schools where some form of reformation is expected to take place in the lives of the inmates.
“It’s a sad thing for a whole country to have only two Remand Centers and one Approved School” she stated.
She also highlighted the four goals of JSDP indicating: community policing, strengthening the rule of law, access to justice and justice delivery.
The juvenile justice is very crucial to their work as they have held series of consultations with stake holders, including the Vice President, Gender and Children Affairs Minister and other representatives from Line Ministries and Departments on the issue of juvenile justice.
By Solomon Rogers