INTERVIEWS: Young people in conflict with the law

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As part of CRIN's reporting activities at the Human Rights Council, we interviewed two young people who were attending the events as part of a group delegation organised by Y Care International. These are their stories.

Daniella Abbate, 20, lives in YMCA housing, for young people, in the UK. She has been in conflict with the law three times, and thinks the police are getting worse in dealing with children and young people.

I was treated differently each of the three times I was arrested. First, I was arrested for shop lifting when I was 16, which I know was stupid. I got treated quite fairly that time; they asked me whether I wanted handcuffs, to which I obviously said no!

But for the second time, they treated us horribly – they were really sarcastic and nasty.
It was for being at a friend’s house when it was being raided. I got arrested at 11.30 one morning, and was only released at 4am the following morning. In the meantime they raided the house of my Mum and Gran.

When they raided the house, they forced the door down, and pushed one of my friends to the floor, and then forced us both into a room together. It made us feel like we were nothing, even though we hadn’t done anything wrong.

They have got worse over the years, and I feel really strongly about it. They always tell us to follow the law, but how can they expect us to when we they don’t?

I’m surprised that we are the only young people here! It’s great being here, as you can see all these people fighting for what they believe in. I have the feeling that there can be a big sea change just by being heard, and I want to encourage people to see that not all young people are bad.

In the UK, even just being dressed in a tracksuit can mean that the police will harass you. My friends were waiting in a queue recently, and some police went by and said hello. My friends nodded, and so the police starting asking “don’t you speak English or something?”. People get stopped just because they don’t look or sound right.

Thandawani Ndlouy, 22, from South Africa, was arrested for being associated with a criminal when he was 17. He was detained for five months in jail awaiting trial.

The conditions were bad. I was in a cell with much older adults, and there were 80 of us in a cell. I had to sleep on the floor.

I was given no information about the case at all. They had no witness, and the victim did not appear to give information, or to identify me. But this experience was quite common.

I was studying marketing and business at the time, and so of course I was not able to continue properly with my studies. It is so hard to get a job if you have a criminal conviction, because there is always a criminal conviction section of the form you have to fill in. The stigma is still always there.

I also had no rehabilitation or anything, or advice.
I was just supposed to meet with the parole officer every so often so they could check up on me, and that was it.

The media only report on the bad stories about young people
- they are not interested in the positive stories.

Being here, it feels like you are among people who want to address the issues. It is a very good opportunity for me, and I believe it is possible here to make a difference.

Further information

 

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.