Wednesday, July 01, 2015. BMG: Tuesday, June 30th, marked the opening of the first ever child friendly Family Court in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo district. The symbolic cutting of the ribbon was done by Honorable Chief Justice of Belize, Kenneth Benjamin and Ivan Yerovi of UNICEF.
This new building is the first of its kind in the country and was made possible through collaboration between the Supreme Court of Belize and UNICEF to establish a child friendly justice system in Belize.
Inspiration for the opening of the court came from various study tours where members of the Belize Supreme Court and the Government of Belize saw child justice reform in action. These visits encouraged the process and made the ideas about implementing child justice reform in Belize possible, aiming for nationwide coverage.
The reform is a comprehensive strategy, which includes physical infrastructure, but also capacity building and institutional strengthening. Over the past few years, child justice trainings have been held with all of Belize’s judges and magistrates, and new policies and procedures have been developed to respect children’s rights and needs.
Chief Justice Benjamin spoke at the ceremony and said that the event marks the day when the spirit of the Family Court legislation is given new significance as for the first time, Family Court matters will be dealt with outside of Belize City. He went on to say that it is intended that the facility will offer the services required to respond to and respect the needs of children.
A press release issued today emphasized that it is necessary to mention that this initiative would not have been possible without the support from and partnership with agencies such as the Belize Legal Aid Office, The Department of Human Services, The National Committee for Families and Children, The Belize Police Department and several other stakeholders.
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