15 Jan 2004

Commissioner Issues Statement On Paramilitary Punishment Beatings Against Children

Following the incident on 9th January when a 14 year old boy in North Belfast was subject to extreme threats and shot through the knee, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams has at every opportunity placed on record in public his abhorrence of such attacks. 

He has issued the following statement:  

"Nothing justifies any vigilante action by paramilitaries against anyone, but especially against children and young people under the age of 18. I unreservedly condemn so called "punishment attacks" of any kind against young people. Such retribution - for it cannot be described in any sense as any form of justice - merely makes matters worse, and destroys young people's lives. There are many excellent initiatives underway involving both statutory and voluntary agencies to address issues of challenging anti social behaviour by young people. Such preventative and diversionary initiatives deserve the support of the community as appropriate ways of dealing with issues. We must rely on the recognised authorities within the youth justice system to deal with crime by young people, not paramilitaries. I call on everyone in society to work together to eliminate such attacks, and deal with the fear within communities that allows them to continue. We must invest in our children and young people - not attack them."

Nigel Williams
Commissioner for Children and Young People