Last edited: December 2005
Summary and Analysis
Jamaica passed a detailed child protection law in 2003 – the Child Care and Protection Act. The Act provides definitions of child abuse and neglect, procedures for responding to allegations, and judicial remedies. The Act mandates that the child's views be taken into account when the child is of sufficient age and maturity to form his or her own views. Further, the Act creates the position of “Children's Advocate,” who will serve as legal representative to a child if it appears to the court that the child is in need of representation and if the child consents to the representation.
An alliance of organizations is conducting a public education program on the new Child Care and Protection Act. Alliance members include the Jamaica Coalition on the Rights of the Child, Hope for Children, Peace and Love in Society, and the Independent Jamaica Council on Human Rights.
Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
CHILD CARE AND PROTECTION ACT 2003
§2 Child's Views
(2) Where there is reference in this Act to the best interests of a child, the factors to be taken into account in determining the child's best interests shall include - . . . (e) whether the child is of sufficient age and maturity so as to be capable of forming his or her own view and, if so, those views are to be given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child; . . . .
(3) This Act shall be interpreted and administered so that the safety and well-being of the child is the paramount consideration and in accordance with the following principles - . . . (d) where the child is of sufficient age and maturity so as to be capable of forming his or her own views, those views should be taken into account when decisions relating to the child are made; . . . .
§4 Representation by Children's Advocate
(2) Where in any proceedings a child is brought before the court and it appears to the court that the child is in need of legal representation in those proceedings, the court shall (a) refer the case to the Children's Advocate . . . .
(3) Where a case is referred to the Children's Advocate under subsection (1) – (a) the Children's Advocate shall act as the child's legal representative in the proceedings if the child so consents, directly or through his parent or guardian . . . .
§62 Rights of Child in Places of Safety
A child in a place of safety, children's home or in the care of a fit person shall have the following rights - . . . (b) to be consulted and, according to the child's abilities, to express his views about significant decisions affecting that child; . . . (j) to privacy during discussions with a family member or legal representative; (k) to be informed about and to be assisted if the child so wishes, in contacting the Children's Advocate; (l) to be informed of the child's rights under this Act and the procedures available for enforcing those rights.
First Schedule: Constitution and functions of office of Children's Advocate
§4(1) Duties of the Children's Advocate
It shall be the duty of the Children's Advocate to act as legal representative for any juvenile who is brought before a court and who, himself or through any person having the custody, care or control of the juvenile, requests legal representation.
Additional Resources and Links
Alliance for the Promotion of the Child Care and Protection Act, Jamaica Gleaner, March 1, 2005.
Jamaica Initial Report of State Party, U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.12 (1994)
Jamaica Ministry of Health – Child Care and Protection:
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