Deputy Assistant Secretary for Caribbean Affairs and Haiti, Barbara Feinstein joined the Government of Jamaica in opening two new child-friendly spaces as part of US$6.7 million in US foreign assistance supporting the US – Jamaica Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership.
With these new additions in Kingston and Montego Bay, there are now three child-friendly spaces open across the country, where child crime victims can be heard and receive justice.
All are designed with children’s needs in mind, offering a warm, welcoming environment for child crime victims, including for conducting interviews and providing assistance to child victims of human trafficking.
The United States and Jamaica signed the CPC Partnership in 2018; it outlines a four-year plan developed jointly to build on Jamaica’s existing efforts to prosecute and punish perpetrators of child trafficking, identify child trafficking victims and strengthen the provision of comprehensive protective services, and prevent child trafficking from occurring. This is the first partnership of its kind in the Caribbean.
The completion of these new spaces is a result of the commitment of both governments to support child victims of trafficking in persons. The United States has provided funding through the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and Jamaican ministries, departments and agencies have invested resources and personnel toward the goals and objectives of the CPC Partnership.
Tuesday’s opening was made possible by the hard work of US implementing partner Warnath Group, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), as well as other anti-trafficking stakeholders. These safe spaces, based out of INDECOM’s Kingston and Montego Bay locations, are designed for child victims of trafficking or other serious crimes to be interviewed and receive appropriate care and referral to services.
Under the partnership, Warnath Group has assisted the Government of Jamaica in creating multiple spaces for child victims, starting with the opening of the first child-friendly space in March 2022, operated by the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) in Falmouth.
Both new spaces include an interview room, with plans to add state-of-the-art recording equipment specifically tailored to supporting children. Artist Monique Kidd added beautiful murals showcasing the wildlife of Jamaica, to bring added colour and comfort into each space.
Warnath Group has also worked closely with INDECOM officers in providing the training, tools, and skills needed to deliver a high level of care and support to children accessing these spaces.
Speaking at the launch, Deputy Assistant Secretary Feinstein said: “These spaces will endure as long-standing resources for communities and serve as a model of true partnership embodying the spirit of the CPC. The US Government contributed, but it would not have happened without Jamaican leadership, resources, and political will. We urge the Government of Jamaica to continue to ensure the sustainability of our partnership”.
INDECOM Commissioner Hugh Faulkner added, “The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is pleased to add to its facilities Child-Friendly Spaces consequent on the US -Jamaica Child Protection Compact Partnership. Our children and vulnerable clients, at our offices in Montego Bay and Kingston, will benefit from global best-practice interview facilities.
The commission records its gratitude to the Governments of the United States of America and Jamaica, for this bi-lateral initiative to improve access to justice services, specifically tailored for children and vulnerable groups”.