First-ever youth offenders facility opens in SeychellesGeneral |Author: Betymie Bonnelame | February 7, 2024, Wednesday @ 13:57| 2979 views
The centre caters for young people aged 14 to 17 convicted by the court for criminal offences only. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A first-ever facility for youth offenders in Seychelles opened on Monday on Praslin, the second most populated island.
The facility, which is based at Amitié, was inaugurated by President Wavel Ramkalawan and Minister for Internal Affairs Roy Fonseka.
The centre caters for young people aged 14 to 17 convicted by the court for criminal offences only. It includes separate dormitories for male and female clients and can host up to 13 females and 20 males with around 15 staff.
It also comprises of classrooms, a dining area, holding cells, sports areas and vocational training areas and is expected to host curriculum studies as well as therapeutic music and arts sessions.
In his address at the opening, Ramkalawan said, "Criminality among the youth is everyone's business. It is a great challenge to cater to youth who will be sent to the facility but it can only be tackled by the joining of hands of all stakeholders including the community. A child is born in a family but nurtured by a community. The influence the community exerts on the child carries immense impacts."
He stated that the facility will not solve all the country's problems and "if we do not make proper use of it, it can become the source of one of our biggest problems."
Ramkalawan called on all those responsible for the facility to ensure its proper functioning.
"As we seek to protect our children convicted in the court of law, let us ensure that we ourselves are not pointing them in the wrong direction. We will be adopting a zero-tolerance policy for any unethical behaviour from staff members," he added.
|A commemorative plaque was unveiled by President Ramkalawan (right) and Minister Fonseka. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
The commissioner of the Seychelles Prison Services, Raymond St. Ange, said, "Today is a testament to a vision communicated barely two years ago when various stakeholders met to discuss youth crime prevention. As a result of that meeting and technical meetings held after that, we are ready to open one of the options put before us; that being the youth offenders' facility," he said.
The centre will be a collaborative effort with the departments of social services, youth, education, employment and the councils working with youths in Seychelles.
Two staff of the Seychelles Prison Services were trained last year in Israel to get a better understanding of how to better manage youth in distress.
A commemorative plaque was unveiled by Ramkalawan and Fonseka followed by the exchange of commissioning certificate by the officer-in-charge of the youth offenders' facility, inspector Stephanie Lewis, and Fonseka.
The minister thanked all stakeholders for their support in the setting up and in guaranteeing the smooth running of the facility.
Fonseka that the collaborative approach of ministries, departments and other interested partners will help address the youth trauma and reinforce positive values.
"Having this dual track system and approach will give the younger citizen the opportunity to move away from a life of truancy, and delinquency and back on track to a life of countless positive possibilities and outcomes with their families. We want to see all our youth succeeding in life, and in doing so, place this youth offenders' facility out of business," he added.
The Anglican St. Matthews Church of Grand Anse Praslin donated some rehabilitation books to the facility and Reverend Dr Simon Fred blessed the premises. He also vowed their support to the facility, which is yet to receive its first clients.
The premises of the Youth Offenders Facility once hosted the Youth Rehabilitation Treatment Centre (YRTC) for minors with delinquent behaviours in 1991. It did not operate as a prison and was later moved to North East Point on Mahe and was closed down in 2008.