Legal recourse may not always be the solution to some perceived criminal acts. According to Senior Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence, if such an act is linked to psychological issues it may not always be feasible to simply
mete out legal measures to them.
She recently questioned, “If somebody has some kind of psychological issue, ‘is sentencing and jailing them going to make them recognise what they have done and be remorseful about it?’ And can they amend without psychological assistance?”
According to Minister Lawrence, “One of the things in Guyana that we don’t take into consideration is that we just treat everybody the same way…That’s our problem. We have to deal with all of these issues.”
“If somebody is suffering from a mental illness, for instance, you can charge them with all the charges you can…the thing is ‘do they recognise what they have done?’”
The Minister’s remarks were spurred by a recent incident at an orphanage in Berbice which claimed the life of a young girl. The incident reportedly involved an older male resident of the institution driving, without permission, a vehicle into a wall which collapsed and caused the death of the younger female resident.
The lad accused of causing the accident was last week passed through the court and was charged with manslaughter. The young girl who was fatally injured was also last week laid to rest.
But Minister Lawrence, ahead of the matter being brought to the attention of the court, was hopeful that since it was recognised that the incident was a mere accident and not intentional that the judicial system would be lenient.
This is in light of the Minister’s view that the accused lad has had a hard live.
The Minister told media operatives recently, “We are hoping that the Magistrate will understand his situation. He was placed in this home (Berbice Orphanage) at three years old. Someone took him to the gate and just left him there.”
Despite having a difficult life, the Minister revealed that “he is a wonderful child. I know him personally…it is unfortunate what has happened so you can imagine what that has done to him emotionally, and so we are working with the caregivers of that home to ensure that we provide for him and also to provide for the (family of the) girl who has passed.”
Part of the support that the Ministry has been offering is that of counselling, particularly for the accused. Added to this, Minister Lawrence said that she has been speaking to Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan. Also Minister Lawrence said that she has also been seeking assistance from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
According to the Social Protection Minister too, “We are hoping that as we continue to work with the justice system that these are some of the things that we can be able to have highlighted so that they in turn can be able to address these issues when it confronts them.”
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