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Minor accused of murder, five others implicated in rape

(Loop)-The spate of crime being committed by young people in Antigua and Barbuda has become overwhelming.

Adults are living in fear of children and children in fear of their own peers.

From robberies to woundings to murders, the nature of offenses being committed by youth in the small island state is worsening by the day.

Just recently, the country recorded its first murder for the year where a 16-year-old boy has been charged in relation to that homicide.

The victim, Roudi Shmali, was reportedly shot in his back in broad daylight on Monday 21, May 2023.

The accused, who cannot be identified due to his age, allegedly robbed the Pick ‘N Mix Mart on DeSouza Road armed with a gun and while wearing a mask.

Police went into swift action, apprehending the alleged perpetrator not long after and charging him with murder on Wednesday.

Today, May 25, the young boy appeared before the island’s Child Justice Board and was remanded to the country’s sole penal institution.

And on his next court appearance, he will appear before the Juvenile Court for committal proceedings in the higher court.

Meanwhile, five suspects are in custody for raping a 46-year-old woman on May 15 – one is 13, two are 15 and two are 17 years old.

But what is also quite worrisome is the fact that these minors will not face any severe penalties for these heinous crimes

According to the country’s Child Justice Act of 2015, minors under age 12 cannot be held liable for criminal offences, but minors over 14 are liable to spend no more than three years in prison if “the offence for which the child is convicted is an offence listed under Schedule III, or murder or treason” and if there is  “substantial and compelling reasons exist for imposing a sentence of imprisonment, which may include a previous failure to respond to alternative sentences, including sentences with a residential element and where the court imposing sentence considers that no other sentence is appropriate.”

Children between 12 and 13 cannot receive jail time, but are liable to receive other types of sentences as referral to counselling.

However, the government has previously expressed its intention to review the legislation.

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