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St. Lucia[1][print]

Last edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

Though Saint Lucia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] in June of 1993, it is unclear what legal authority, if any, the Convention has domestically.  Since the ratification of the CRC, Saint Lucia has amended much of its child-related legislation, including the Children and Young Persons Act and the Adoption Ordinance, to better comply with the Convention.  The legislature has also approved several new statutes, including the Family Court Act and the Domestic Violence Act.  Currently, government officials are drafting a protocol for the management of child abuse and neglect in Saint Lucia. 

Though Saint Lucia has several statutes governing child protection, including the Children and Young Persons Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Civil Code, the government has few agencies working in the child protection arena.  According to legislation, protection proceedings take place before the Juvenile Court.  Saint Lucia reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that the Division of Human Services and Family Affairs coordinates tutors, similar to guardians ad litem, and social workers.[2]  (It should be noted that legislation only provides for the appointment of tutors in adoption cases.)  Still, the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor reports, “As there was no welfare system in place, parents of sexually abused children sometimes declined to press sexual assault charges against the abuser in exchange for financial contributions toward the welfare of children born of such abuse.”[3]  There are several non-governmental organizations working with children, primarily the Saint Lucia Save the Children Fund [LUSAVE].  LUSAVE reported last year that the organization receives approximately 3 reports of child abuse per day and that there were numerous incidents of children as young as 10 giving birth as a result of sexual abuse.[4]

Saint Lucia has significantly supplemented its legislation in order to comply with the CRC, child protective legislation does not yet include provisions implementing the principles of Article 12 of the Convention, which gives children the rights to express their views in matter affecting them.  Though legislation does not explicitly state that a child's views must be heard, a child who is believed to have been mistreated must be brought before the juvenile court by the police.  Presumably, the magistrate has the discretion to ask children about their opinions, but the consultation of children is not a requirement.  The magistrate is instructed to “regard the welfare of the minor as the first and paramount consideration.”[5]  However, children in delinquency proceedings and adoption cases are given the opportunity to speak.  The Adoption Ordinance instructs the Magistrate to make a decision with “due consideration . . . given to the wishes of the infant, having regard to the age and understanding of the infant.”[6]

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

Statutes

Children and Young Persons Act[7]

4. Every court, in dealing with a juvenile who is brought before it as being in need of care or protection or as an offender or otherwise, shall have regard to the welfare of the juvenile and shall, if it deems it necessary, take steps for removing the juvenile from undesirable surroundings.

7.—(1) If it appears to a Magistrate on information on oath laid by any person who, in the opinion of such Magistrate is acting in the interests of a juvenile that there is reasonable cause to suspect—

(a) that a juvenile has been or is being assaulted, ill-treated or neglected in a manner likely to cause the juvenile unnecessary suffering; or

   (b) that any offence mentioned in this Act has been or is being committed in respect of the juvenile;

the Magistrate may issue a warrant authorizing any police officer—

                                      (i)     to search for the juvenile, and (if it is found that the juvenile has been or is being assaulted, ill-treated or neglected in any such manner, or that any offence has been or is being committed in respect of him) to take him to and detain him in a place of safety;

                                    (ii)     to remove the juvenile with or without search to a place of safety and to detain him there,

until, in either such case, the juvenile can be brought before a juvenile court.

8.—(1) Any police officer or authorised person may bring before a juvenile court a juvenile in need of care or protection.

       (2) For the purposes of this section—

           (a) the expression “authorised person” means

                      (i) any probation officer; or

                      (ii) any person appointed as such by the Minister;

(b) “Minister” means the Minister to whom the responsibility for Social Affairs has been assigned;

(c) in the expression “care or protection” includes control and guidance, as well as discipline.

9.—(1) A Juvenile court before which any juvenile is brought by virtue of sections 7, 8 or 10, or any court before which is brought any juvenile in respect of whom any of the officers [sic] mentioned in this Act has been committed, may, if satisfied that the welfare of the juvenile so requires, make an order—

                   (a)    committing him to the care of any fit person, whether a relative or not, who is willing to undertake the care of him; or

                   (b)    requiring his parent or guardian to enter into a recognizance to exercise proper care and guardianship; or

                    (c)    placing him, wither in addition to, or without making, any order under paragraph (a) or (b) for a specified period, not exceeding three years, under the supervision of a probation officer; or

                   (d)    committing him to be detained in a Government Industrial School for a period not exceeding three years.

        (2) Any order made under subsection (1), may from time to time be renewed, varied and revoked by the Court on the application of any person.

        (3) A juvenile court before which any juvenile is brought may make such interim order as it thinks fit for the juvenile's detention or continued detention in a place of safety, or for his committal to the care of a fit person, whether a relative or not, who is willing to undertake the care of him. . .

       (5) If the juvenile court by which an interim order is made is satisfied on any occasion that, by reason of illness of accident, the juvenile is unable to appear personnally [sic] before the court, any further interim order which the court has power to make on that occasion may be made in the absence of the juvenile.

10. Where a person having the custody, charge or care of a juvenile has been—

(1) convicted, in respect of that juvenile, of any of the offences mentioned in this Act; or

(2) bound over to keep the peace towards that juvenile, by any court;

that court may order that juvenile to be brought before a juvenile court with a view to the juvenile court making an order under section 9, and shall direct that a probation officer be informed as soon as practicable of the order made.

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [8] ratified Jun. 16, 1993

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Initial reports of States parties due in 1995: Saint Lucia, Committee on the Rights of the Child, ¶52 , U.N. Doc. CRC/C/28/Add.23 (Oct. 13, 2004) available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf, and also as .pdf Document.

[3] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Human Rights Report: Saint Lucia, U.S. State Department, §5 (2005) available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41773.htm, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Id., §5.

[5] Civil Code art. 210A.

[6] Adoption Ordinance of 1954

[7] Children and Young Persons Act of 1972, No. 11, art. 4, 7(1), 8, 9 (1-3,5), 10, available as .pdf Document.

[8] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

 

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