Following howls of protests from local lobby group, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) about the plight of children in adult correctional facilities, the Ministry of National Security has announced that all female juveniles have now been moved to the renovated South Camp Road facility.
Last week the female juveniles at Diamond Crest Juvenile Correctional Centre were transferred to South Camp Road Correctional Facility, and on Monday, the remaining 25 girls from the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre, were relocated to South Camp Road.
In a statement the Ministry of National Security said the relocation of the juveniles, fulfills a commitment given by Peter Bunting, National Security Peter Bunting, during his sectoral debate presentation in June.
The Minister promised that there would be a complete separation of juveniles from adults in the correctional system by the end of 2013.The Ministry also announced that under the Government's juvenile diversion policy, it has effectively reduced the number of juveniles in correctional facilities .
Concerning female juveniles, the Ministry said this number has been reduced over the last two years by more than half, to sixty one juveniles in custody.
The renovated facility is designed to eventually be separated into two separate though adjacent facilities, to house adult and juvenile female inmates.
The Ministry said for the immediate future the juveniles will be the only occupants at the South Camp Road facility, as the adult females will remain at Fort Augusta until the Port Authority has need for the facility.
Meanwhile, Dr. Carolyn Gomes, Executive Director of Jamaicans for Justice says, with the movement of the juveniles to the South Camp facility, several questions have now arisen.
She has questioned the rationale for moving into Kingston, all the girls from the Diamond Crest juvenile facility in the southern parish of St Elizabeth.
“ What assessment has been done on all the juveniles, in other words, what are they in there for ?Are they for remand ? are they there for care and protection what superstation is occurring for the three populations ?”
She also wants the government to indicate what types of programmes have been put in place to assist the girls.
And Carol Narcisse, spokesperson for the child rights working group in the Civil Society Coalition is concerned that the group was unable to tour the new facility before it s was populated.
She said the group was told in early July that a tour of the facility was not possible then and contact should be made in the last quarter of the year to arrange a tour.
“We wonder whether the Government’s desire to meet the extended deadline which it got fro the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights which was an extension to August 26 , is the motivation to move the girls as stealthily as they had done from all facilities to South Camp” she said.