IT is encouraging that law enforcers are taking time to discuss how best to handle youth offenders, Justice Minister and Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat said yesterday.
Dr Marat told the 38th Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police Conference in Port Moresby the key issue here was rehabilitation for reintegration into society, not punishment and ostracising.
He said it was imperative and crucial that while the law enforcers provided a secure and safer Pacific, leaders should provide the environment where there were adequate services and opportunities for the young people.
“But I realise that your role is to tackle the rebels of society or the effects of the reality when a government has not fully delivered upon its promise,” Dr Marat said.
He said poor road infrastructure, poor health and education facilities, few economic opportunities and generally poor future outlook could and would motivate young people into a life of crime.
He said statistics indicated that crime by youths varied greatly around the world but more focused intervention programmes had proved effective in other developed and developing countries to address youth offending and re-offending.
“To keep crime in check and effectively addressed it in the 21st century, we’ll all need to get smarter, not just tougher and if I might add here, more sensitive to the issues at hand,” Dr Marat said.
Police Commissioner Gari Baki, in a statement yesterday, said that he was taken to task over the theme “Youth offending in the Pacific and its impact on regional security” which many said was negative.
“I have decided to keep the theme because this is a serious concern for many countries within the region and must be addressed head-on,” Mr Baki said.
He said many Pacific island countries’ population ware increasing disproportionately to the availability of basic services, including education and economical opportunities.
Mr Baki said PNG alone had a population of 6.3 million with 50% of them being under the age of 19 with an annual growth of 2.7%, or 170,000 persons born each year.
“We face serious problems if appropriate measures are not put in place by relevant organisations, including police, to adequately address and cater for our young people,” he said.