It is not surprising that Keith Rowley is focused on the Robert Sabga report commissioned 25 years ago rather than the Justice Jones report, outlining serious sexual and physical abuse occurring presently under the Children’s Authority.
This is clearly an attempt to deflect from the disclosure that high ranking PNM members were and are still involved in a paedophile ring.
The PNM is instead focused on smearing Robert Sabga and falsely claiming that the report produced by the Sabga led committee was somehow “buried”.
The idea that the report produced by Robert Sabga and the team was somehow a secretive document or was buried is a complete lie!
On the contrary:
1) The recommendations made in the Sabga report were enacted in Parliament by the Panday Government. The following Bills were introduced in 1999 in response to the Sabga Report, sent to a JSC and passed in 2000, which the subsequent PNM government refused to implement:
· The Children’s Authority Bill, 1999;
· The Children (Amendment) Bill, 1999;
· The Adoption of Children Bill, 1999;
· The Miscellaneous Provisions (Children) Bill, 1999;
· The Children’s Community Residences, Foster Homes and Nurseries Bill, 1999.
2) Minister Ramsaran has stated on Hansard that the Sabga Report was laid in Parliament. Rowley has been in parliament since 1987.
3) Minister Ramsaran has publicly stated that he gave a copy of the Sabga Report to then COP Hilton Guy and discussed the same with him.
4) the Sabga Report and its recommendations have been referenced numerous times in relation to legislation enacted by the Panday Government to improve the care of children in state facilities, including by Camille Robinson-Regis.
(i) The Sabga report was referenced in 2002 by Independent Senator Ramesh Deosaran and Camille Robinson-Regis who are recorded in Hansard as saying;
Deosaran: “almost 5 years ago there was a report on children’s homes, it is commonly called the Sabga Report. The gentleman who did the report under the then Ministry of Social Development was Mr Robert Sabga. I would suggest that the Minister look at that report carefully”.
Robinson-Regis: “In fact, that particular Sabga Report was used by the then Ministry of Social Development to examine all the issues as they related to the care of children. The issues that were raised in that report were very revealing in circumstances where our society had depended on a number of foster homes to ensure care for our young children and for children who had suffered abandonment by their families. That report did, in fact, inform quite a number of the policies that were developed during that period, especially as they related to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,”
(ii) Line Minister Manohar Ramsaran also referred to the report in June 2006 in the House of Representatives and is recorded in Hansard as saying:
“I remember when I first talked about the abuse of children reaching my ministry in this Parliament, the Member for Diego Martin East laughed and asked me if I was living somewhere in Mars. We appointed a committee which was headed by Dr Robert Sabga to investigate homes in this country, and that report is somewhere in the Parliament. It was laid in Parliament. When that committee visited homes, they found children were being abused and the managers of these homes tried everything to prevent the committee from going into these buildings. They almost went to court. I hurriedly went to the cabinet and appointed an inspector of homes who had the legal authority to visit these homes”
(iii) Furthermore, in 2008 former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj also acknowledged the Sabga report and was recorded in Hansard saying:
“But on the same page, in 2000, after recommendations from the 1997 Task Force Report on children in institutions, a comprehensive package of legislation was enacted. The major component of this package was Act No. 64 of 2000 which provided for the establishment of the Children’s Authority to act as a guardian of the children of Trinidad and Tobago. The authority is to advise the Minister with responsibility for children on matters relating to the operation of the Act, license and monitor community residences, foster homes and nurseries after establishing standards for operation, investigate complaints relating to the care and protection of children, monitor all agencies addressing children matters to act as an advocate for the rights of all children in Trinidad and Tobago. The Act is yet to be proclaimed. So, the Ministry of Social Development was saying up to 2006 that this is the goal to implement the Act, to implement this package of legislation and it has this under the heading: “Progress achieved.”
5) Rowley has yet to hold his former handpicked director of the Children’s Authority, former PNM candidate Nichola Harvey Mitchell, to account for the crimes committed against vulnerable children under her watch.
The Police must also step in and investigate reports of a longstanding pedophile ring operating within the PNM.
Rowley must call the names of his PNM colleagues involved in the paedophile ring alleged by Sabga.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
18th May February 2022