PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar has announced that a Child Protection Task Force will be established with a mandate to review all existing policies, legislation and protocols in place to protect the nation’s children.
The Child Protection Task Force’s first task is to recommend measures aimed at overhauling and advancing protection, care and intervention services of the State and non-Governmental organisations.
Last Friday, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar described the death of six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch as “a tragedy that is simply too horrific to imagine”.
Today, the Prime Minister paid a personal visit to the home of Keyana Cumberbatch, where she spoke with Keyana’s mother Simone Williams and other relatives. There she gave the assurance that “the State will provide every possible support to the family in their time of grief and anguish”.
She said: “It is very hard to imagine the depth of agony being experienced by Ms. Williams, as well as her relatives and friends. This is not a moment that any parent or any person can ever be prepared for. And, what happened to Keyana is something no child must ever have to experience!”
The Child Protection Task Force will complement the immediate and ongoing emergency response from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said the Child Protection Task Force will meet this week, bringing together the nation’s top advocates for the rights, protection and wellbeing of children.
Its mandate includes:
· Comprehensively review of all provisions, regulations, legislation and public sector processes focused on the care, health and protection of children;
· Recommend how, through policy intervention and partnerships with non-governmental and community organisations, the State can roll back risks to children;
· Make recommendations on how the Children’s Authority of Trinidad & Tobago can become fully empowered to carry out its mandate;
· Recommend how emergency responses can be widened, accelerated and structured in a manner to immediately respond to the needs of children at risk;
· The Child Protection Task Force will complement the immediate and ongoing emergency response from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development.
The Prime Minister said: “I have chosen not to go the way of others and discuss who is to be blamed and who must be held liable. There are no solutions in blame; but there is in standing united as a people and as a nation and saying that we will not stand for this!”
“It is a time when we must all as citizens close ranks, united in our determination to take every possible action to protect the lives and wellbeing of our nation’s children. Through this Child Protection Task Force, every loophole, every gap and every grey area that must be fixed will be identified and action will be taken.”
The Prime Minister has also mandated the Child Protection Task Force to provide thorough recommendations on “the causes and factors that are fueling such a stark breakdown in human values in some persons and families.”
The members of the Child Protection Task Force will be announced on Monday.
Office of the Prime Minister TT