– as Child Protection Agency moves swiftly to investigate sex allegations
By Latoya Giles
A High Court Judge has granted the Child Protection Agency (CPA) a court order to have four teenage girls removed from the New Opportunity Corps (NOC). Head of the CPA Ms. Ann Greene told Kaieteur News that the Agency had moved to the courts to have the girls removed as to continue the investigation into allegations of abuse.
Greene said that the girls will remain in protective custody. She noted that the Child Protection Agency is obligated to investigate every single report of abuse against a child. “We have to be very careful with the issue,” she told Kaieteur News yesterday afternoon.
On Wednesday evening Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Jennifer Webster, said that she had asked the Child Care and Protection Agency to investigate the alleged sexual molestation of female inmates of the New Opportunity Corps.
Minister Webster told Kaieteur News, yesterday, that her Ministry received reports from the parents of the alleged victims on Tuesday.
“I have asked the Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency to conduct an investigation. We are currently conducting an investigation,” Webster said.
Minister Webster’s comments came amid reports that several teenage girls have alleged that a senior government official was among individuals who had sexual intercourse with them at the New Opportunity Corps.
Within the last week several allegations have been emanating from the NOC about caregivers and senior ministry officials engaged in sexual acts with teenagers. Parents of teenagers have come forward and told harrowing stories about sexual abuse.
One mother told Kaieteur News on Thursday that she was being denied a “one-on-one” visit with her daughter. According to the woman, while visiting her daughter recently, the 16-year-old managed to slip a note in her pocket, which detailed accounts of sexual abuse.
Kaieteur News was told by the woman that her daughter was initially sentenced to two years at the NOC.
“When she get that two years I say okay….she gon go there and learn a trade and get counseling,” the woman said.
A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Parliamentarian Chris Jones had told Kaieteur News that his Party was in the process of preparing a dossier which would be sent to various international organizations.
“One dossier will be filled with statements of the children and the Government of Guyana’s inaction to deal with these matters,” Jones explained.
Opposition Leader Brig. David Granger had said that his Party had no confidence in the capability of the Ministry of Culture, to administer the New Opportunity Corps.
Granger had proposed that the responsibility of the Corps be transferred to another Ministry or agency that possesses the requisite personnel and skills and is better prepared to tend to the lives of juveniles sympathetically.
He stressed, “It is evident that a new approach and a new agency are needed to curb the perpetuation of abuses and interpersonal violence which are still occurring in the Corps.
“APNU is concerned that the worst incidence of violence in the entire history of the Corps occurred in August 2012 and involved about one-third of the juveniles in the Corps.” The Minister however, has been unable to present the report of the Commission of Inquiry to the National Assembly after over 20 months.
“The absence of the report clearly has resulted in the Ministry’s inability to comprehend the problem and to prevent the recurrence of abuses similar to those that are alleged to have triggered the August 2012 events.’
“The last escape occurred between March 22 and March 24, this year. It involved 11 juveniles.”
Granger had said that APNU has been disturbed, particularly by the new reports of sexual harassment and exploitation of juvenile girls by male staff members and older males.
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