This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Dear Editor, I refer to the article “Bill Seeks To End Whipping of Juveniles” (SN 11/08/10) and would appreciate the opportunity to comment. I fear that in this case a combination of haste and non-consultation may be conspiring to achieve a degradation of the deterrent-effect the extant law in Guyana represents, rather than improving or upgrading it in any way. The first point that should be made is about the vague nature of the reporting on this important issue. Why was this Bill not reported on last week when it was tabled? Why was the above article so vague? Why was there no serious effort to analyze the wording of the section of the Act to which it referred. This absence of detail has fuelled an enormous speculation in the blogosphere! It becomes yet another example of the weird pattern of law-making in Guyana that typically offers no explanation, defies the evidence, and accomplished without adequate public consultation. This article, hidden away at page 19 of today's SN, needs to be placed both in "worldview" and “common-sense” perspectives. It clearly provides food for the mill of “naiveté and infancy” operated by the likes of Michael Hackett, who is vehemently … even if naively … anti-CP and anti-Christian. He and others made the unsubstantiated leap of reasoning that a provision of the criminal law had implications for the administration of CP in schools and in the home. But is it not reasonable to assume that Guyana has other citizens too, and that many of them also have informed opinions on the issue? We cannot forget the lesson of mayhem and violence that such decisions have wrought in England, Sweden and Trinidad. So the questions that the Editor of Stabroek News, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, and the Ministry of Social Services had to address given their respective responsibilities were really these: Will an Amendment to the Juvenile Offenders’ Act have repercussions on the use of CP in homes and schools … and what wi ll be the implications for religious perspectives? This issue is too important to let slip through the legislative back door! Each of these three institutions failed Guyana’s citizens on this occasion! Three dilemmas arise: 1. Given the surge in juvenile crime including sexual assault, we had asked an obvious question of the Minister of Human Services in the letter "Exactly how many of the public’s recommendations are in the Sexual Offences Bill 2009?" (http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2010/04/30/exactly-how-many-of-thepublic%e2%80%99s-recommendations-are-in-the-sexual-offences-bill-2009/ ). The Minister should also consider these: - Given the recommendations offered at those consultations, where then was the rationale to slacken the law with a Juvenile Offenders (Amendment) Act? - Is the absence of such a rationale a sign that what is being propagated here in the proposed Amendment is … indefensible? - Does the filing of this amendment mean that the government now considers “consultation” unproductive? 2. On yet another occasion, we had pointed to the variegated issues facing the nation as we penned the article “An Initial Assessment of the Stamp It Out Consultation ” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/30423005/An-InitialAssessment-of-the-Stamp-It-Out-Consultation ). If the consensus or majority representation on these occasions inferred that corporal punishment should be kept on as effective deterrent, then where does the government get off by suddenly, and surreptitiously, seeking to pass this amendment? 3. We had pointed out to the Minister/Ministry of Education the valid reasons for the retention of corporal punishment in a range of disciplinary measures in the online article “The Case for Corporal Punishment in Guyana II” ( http://www.scribd.com/doc/17519228/The-Case-for-Corporal-Punishment-In-Guyana-II ). Does this mean that the government has with this Amendment agreed to slap the religious community in the face? Or show open disregard for them? Is this acceptable? There are more questions than answers here, and surely Stabroek News ... and the Ministry of Human Services ... should consider it part of their duty to be clear in their reporting and stewardship. And after hastening to respond to Hackett's (understandable) flight of fancy and association to the school/home corporal-punishment issue on the Internet, I had to rush to look at the law myself ... and thereafter STILL could not understand the undue haste and secrecy with which this matter is being handled. It's a straight case of applying disciplinary corrections where criminal convictions are recorded.
Where a child or young adult is charged with the offence. It may also open the door to the claims of the more naive among us (Hackett has already began blowing his atheistic trumpet) that the arguments extend to corporal punishment as an essential part of a range of disciplinary measures at home and in the schools.. one remedy at 19(f) is that " . In special cases where having regard to the nature of the offence.... In fact it would be a backward step! Why is the administration persisting with this? And why has the opposition not raised its considerable voice in protest? Yours faithfully Roger Williams 11th August. and consider that there is absolutely no justification to amend the law as it currently stands. The administration should cease and desist in this endeavour.Section 19 of the Juvenile Offenders Act Chapter 10:03 states deals with methods of dealing with young persons charged with offences.. the court may ." This provision is clear. and to the character and antecedents of the offender. order the defendant to be whipped . and offers a remedy to especially heinous cases. with the law of the land being in direct opposition to the sacred text of a majority of the population. Thereafter we would be in an unhealthy place . It should NOT therefore be removed. and also in defiance of a tonnage of secular research and evidence on the role that corporal punishment plays in a scheme/range of disciplinary measures. 2010 ... Removal of Section 19(f) will cast a long shadow of doubt as to the seriousness with which the administration views its mandate. and the court is satisfied about his guilt..