Tue | Jun 25, 2019

Court to hear no-locks-in-school case this Friday, says JFJ - OCA sides with JFJ, family in constitutional action

Published:Thursday | August 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer

The first hearing in the constitutional claim filed by Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) to have school policies that prohibit the wearing of dreadlocks by children struck down is scheduled for Friday.

Filed on July 18, the legal action is being pursued on behalf of the parents of a five-year-old girl who, last month, was allegedly informed by the principal of the St Catherine-based Kensington Primary School that their daughter had until August 29 to remove her locks in order to enter grade one in September.

Additionally, the Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA) had applied to join the constitutional action on the side of the family and the JFJ.


Speedy response


The OCA is empowered by the Child Care and Protection Act to intervene in court matters involving law or practice concerning the rights and best interests of children. the OCA indicated to the court that it supported JFJ's claim and has requested permission to make oral and written submissions on the matter given the "exceptional public importance to the children of Jamaica" that the lawsuit presented.

Speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, JFJ executive director Rodje Malcolm said that the human rights group welcomed the speedy response from the court to prioritise the issue in "the interest of all Jamaican children who could be denied access to their constitutional rights in the new school term".

Malcolm added: "JFJ and the family also welcome the support of the OCA in this court action, which can only strengthen the case. The OCA has a special responsibility in law to protect the rights of children, and by taking legal action in support of our claim, they are using their powers to dismantle practices that harm children."

The lawsuit seeks decla-rations and orders from the court that these policies violate the constitutional rights of children and their families to public education, equitable and humane treatment by public authorities, protection from discrimination, freedom of expression, and to other rights.