Two popular gangs calling themselves 2Drilly and 700 Bones have been put on notice that the government will soon amend the Child Justice Act in to deal with people like them.
The gangs, which are made up of students from three schools on the island have caused serious injuries to other students in recent days, some resulting in their hospitalization.
The groups are very vocal on social media and are not shy of displaying their identity for the world to see. They are seen with cutlasses, machetes, and knives, vocally threatening their next target.
But Legal Affairs Minister Steadroy Benjamin said the government has taken a zero-tolerance approach and will amend the law to give the police more power to deal with such students.
Police officers have complained that the current law has tied their hands and Benjamin told State TV that indeed, there’s not much police can do under the act. Under the current act, children under the age of 16 who gets involved in acts of violence are cautioned and returned to their parents
But Benjamin said this will not be the case going forward-or once amendments to the law have been changed.
He said a team will get together to look at the Act in detail to make the relevant amendments.
“The Child Justice Act is not appropriate in such circumstances. These types of violent acts are not to be hindered by the prosecution of this act. I believe that very shortly we shall have amendments to that act to deal with these violent acts when people are slashed in the face,” he said.
According to Benjamin, when the current Child Justice Act was formulated, it was crafted to address minor infractions by children, not the violent acts which have been reported in recent days including instances of wounding and beatings.
“When that law was enacted, it was meant for normal crimes, not these types of situations where people go out in gangs with cutlasses, and knives and attack people. So, I am going to make it simpler for the police to deal with these types of people…I will go back to parliament very soon to change it…I will deal with that and I can assure you will stamp it out and stamp it out now,” he said.
Benjamin said parents will also be held accountable for their children’s behavior.
“You parents who have children whom you cannot control, whom you have on the streets conducting these violent acts, I shall amend the law to make you responsible as well. We will deal with you as well…that is a promise. You have got to control your children.…” Benjamin warned.
The Ministry of Education has met with the principals of the schools involved. The police are also formulating plans on how they can effectively deal with the matter.
Meanwhile, one of the main rehabilitation centres for young males, the Boys Training Schools has been under repair for at least a year.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas said the government hopes to reopen the rehabilitation facility in January next year.