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Judge anxious to start YTC case

By JADA LOUTOO Wednesday, October 7 2015

A HIGH Court judge is anxious to proceed to the trial of a case which will ultimately determine to what facility a juvenile is to be remanded while awaiting trial for criminal offences, while also making a pronouncement on the constitutionality of the Bail (Amendment) Act of 2015 which denies bail for 120 days for offenders accused of possessing a firearm and using it in the commission of violent crimes. Justice Frank Seepersad has adjourned the lawsuit, filed on behalf of two young boys who are both being detained at the Youth Training Centre (YTC) to await trial for two counts of assault with intent to rob, to next week Tuesday.

The adjournment was granted to give the Attorney General time to firm up arrangements for legal representation by the senior counsel who also represented the State in another lawsuit on behalf of a 14-year-old boy incarcerated at YTC for murder, in which Justice Vasheist Kokaram, on August 20 in the Hall of Justice, ordered the newly-formed Children’s Authority to take the boy out of YTC, but find a suitable place while he awaits trial.

Justice Seepersad said it was untenable that since Justice Kokaram’s decision had been given, it appeared that nothing had since been done by the State to comply with the court’s ruling.

In the lawsuit before him, the suitability of the YTC as a remand facility for juveniles is under question as the Children’s Act of 2012 provides that minors awaiting trial should be housed at a “community residence.” According to the legislation, the YTC is not characterised as such and is considered, under the Youth Offenders Act, an institution at which convicted juveniles are imprisoned.

“It may have retroactive effect for hundreds of persons who went through the system,” the judge acknowledged, adding that the issue was also a wider one so as to mitigate against the message being sent that children could be exploited in the pursuit of criminal activities because the law does not make provision for their detention.

Representing the two minors are Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan and Gerald Ramdeen while Neal Byam appeared for the Attorney General.



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