First Lady bemoans inactivity in some agencies set up to deal with child abuse
National forum set for Monday

Stabroek News
November 21, 2000

First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo yesterday bemoaned the level of inactivity prevailing in certain agencies and departments responsible for dealing with the matter of child abuse.

Briefing the media yesterday, Mrs Jagdeo, chairperson of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC), advocated that the laws protecting the rights of children be updated to reflect today's forms and sources of child abuse.

The press conference, held in the Documentation Centre, Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, formally announced the National Forum on Child Abuse scheduled for November 27, at Le Meridien Pegasus.

Mrs Jagdeo said that a typical example of the inactivity was the non-functioning Juvenile Section of the Guyana Police Force, adding that this department seemed only to exist in name. There seemed to be "confusion on who is supposed to do what," she said.

Mrs Jagdeo said the need for persons in those departments and agencies to understand their role in this regard prompted the NCRC to hold the forum. She was flanked by NCRC Coordinator, Shirley Ferguson; Deputy Chief Probation and Family Welfare Officer, Ann Greene; and NCRC Commissioner, Karan Singh. They all agreed that the timing of next week's conference was right, noting that the media was in the vanguard of highlighting the issue. Green said that her office received under 50 reports of child molestation so far this year.

The proposed programme for the forum will examine child abuse in schools and homes and the roles of the legal system, hospitals and probation and welfare services. It will bring together professionals, such as teachers, hospital administrators, the police and non-governmental bodies for the purpose of discussing and identifying a course of action which would seek to protect children from abuse and promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of child victims of virtually every kind of abuse, neglect and exploitation. President Bharrat Jagdeo is to give the feature address.

The NCRC has 14 commissioners along with four ex-officio members, and was formed in 1999 out of the previous 1995-formed Commission for the Survival and Protection of Children's Plan of Action.

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