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Jun 17, 2005

Action plan for children to be implemented

Story PictureViewers may recall that in September of 2004, Prime Minister Said Musa and Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow both endorsed the National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents 2004-2015. Today, the N.C.F.C. hosted a social sector coordination meeting to discuss how the N.P.A. will be put into effect over the next five years.

Judith Alpuche, Executive Dir., N.C.F.C.
?This meeting is the first opportunity that the entire social sector has had to look at the plan in its entirety because we have been working in isolated groups. So we are putting all the pieces together and talking about how do we proceed as a coordinated sector, how do we make sure that things that we have in this implementation plan actually happens. We brought in the major United Nations agencies to also talk about their areas of work and how their areas of work fit with what we want to do with the N.P.A. And now we?re going to discuss the way forward. So we?re really dovetailing a number of processes, putting together pieces to talk about how we proceed.?

?Actually what we found was the N.P.A. was a very long process. We started in 2002 and it wasn?t finished until 2004. And as we went into the implementation plan, we found that we had to revise some of the targets because we had already achieved some things. So we had to make it more pertinent to what the situation was. So it?s an ongoing process, even as we plan.?

In related news, fifty persons from seventeen social sector entities received certificates after successfully completing an Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building Programme. The twelve-month training was a collaborative effort between the N.C.F.C. and the University of Belize. It was funded by UNICEF.

One area of concern N.P.A. promises to address is the issue of children and crime. N.C.F.C.’s Executive Director Judith Alpuche says they are very concerned about incidents in which minors commit crimes, like the recent arrest of two brothers, aged fourteen and sixteen, charged for the brutal murder of twenty-year-old Mara Noemi Garcia.

Judith Alpuche
?It?s a very alarming situation to us of course, as the rest of society. And I think it really highlights the importance of this plan. Under the child protection section it talks about the issue of juvenile justice and strengthening the whole sector of juvenile justice to start with prevention. How do we support families, how do we provide services to children so that they do not come in conflict with the law, that they do not find themselves in situations where they are facing charges for such horrible crimes. And then if that is the case, because you will never be a hundred?prevention is never a hundred percent, how do you develop a justice system and rehabilitation services within that justice system that really respond to the needs of minors to help to rehabilitate them. I mean in this case this child is sixteen years old, he if convicted might be looking at life in prison, but how do you still help that child to reconcile what is going on, and how do you develop services and systems to help other children not to fall into that same trap. So to me, planning and looking at things from a coordinated approach is very important to deal with issues such as these, as well as a whole host of other issues for children.?

It is not the first time that two siblings have been arrested for a capital crime. Earlier this year two minors, also brothers, were arrested for the murder of four-year-old Oscar Velasquez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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