Outraged by the reported suicide of a female teenager being housed in an adult correctional facility, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is demanding answers from the two government ministers with direct responsibility for children in conflict with the law, charging them with the death of the teen.
Declaring that the Government continues to "preside over the illegal and inhumane practice of placing children in adult correctional facilities", JFJ called for Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna and Minister of National Security Peter Bunting to provide answers.
Sixteen-year-old Vanessa Wint is reported to have committed suicide at the Horizon Remand Centre in Kingston on Wednesday night, but family members were yesterday claiming they were yet to receive a satisfactory explanation from the correctional services.
The teen's uncle, Javette Nixon, said the family was devastated and upset, and accused the correctional services of negligence. He said the family plans to request an independent post-mortem to get answers.
"We feel that due care was not taken to secure Vanessa's safety while in the state facility, but beyond that we are very upset with how the entire situation was handled. The fact is that the family was informed by an anonymous person on a phone line. They just in a very callous way indicated that Vanessa was dead and the phone went dead," said Nixon.
"The overriding concern now is to get to the bottom of it, to ensure that justice is done and that whoever was responsible for her is held accountable. The family needs to understand in a very clear, sequential way the circumstances that led to her death ... and the steps taken to safeguard Vanessa."
The family has now retained the services of attorney-at-law Pamela Whittingham of Vacianna & Whittingham.
In a release to the media, JFJ stated that they demand that an urgent investigation be carried out into the death of Vanessa and whoever was responsible held accountable.
In the meantime, Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison said an investigation was being conducted. She also noted that the Government was moving to have children removed from facilities that also house adults.