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Child Task Force to meet Friday

By JULIEN NEAVES Tuesday, December 3 2013

THIS Friday will be the first meeting of the new Child Protection Task Force, set up in the wake of the brutal murder of six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch, and they will present a report to the Cabinet within six weeks, according to a release from the Office of the Prime Minister.

The members of the task force, however, were not announced as had been in indicated in a release on Sunday.

Yesterday’s release stated, “The names of the members of the Task Force are expected to be announced upon the completion of protocols and confirmation of the acceptance by nominees.”

The release reported that following “several heinous crimes” against the nation’s children, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, “in seeking a comprehensive solution to all forms of crime and criminal behaviour against children, has established a Child Protection Task Force comprising experts in childcare and protection”.

“The mandate of the Task Force will be to carry out an in-depth analysis of the factors which cause an increased risk of crime against children, and to make proposals on how legislation, government, non-governmental organisations, parents, and other stakeholders can better protect children,” the release stated.

Among the objectives of the Task Force is to commence, complete and review all provisions, regulations, legislation, and public processes to protect children; to provide recommendations on the issue; to create risk resolutions; to suggest ways to fully empower the Children’s Authority; to provide recommendations on specific risk areas which will require State interventions; to suggest how early warning systems can be structured to provide for the detection of children who live in risk situations; and the provision of sourcing improved counselling and specialist care services for children. The release noted that all previous surveys and reports relative to the issue of child protection will be revisited and considered by the Task Force, and experts and other stakeholders will be welcomed by the Task Force to make presentations and discuss the various issues concerning the well-being of children.

“A number of recommendations have already been made and will form part of the review of the Task Force,” the release added.

The Task Force is expected to report on its findings within six weeks and its recommendations will be discussed at Cabinet level and presented to Parliament subsequently. Implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force will take place through relevant ministries and State agencies, the release noted.

The first meeting of the Task Force is carded for Friday at 10 am at the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development. Persad-Bissessar announced the Task Force following a visit to Keyana’s mother Simone Williams and relatives on Sunday. She described the murder as a tragedy no child should have to experience and promised to support the family.

Keyana, a student of St Barbara’s Shouter Baptist Primary School, went missing last Monday. She was on her way to her grandmother’s apartment, located metres away from where she lived in Maloney. The child was being looked after by a male relative prior to her disappearance. Three days later, her body was found stuffed in a barrel at her home.

An autopsy confirmed she died as a result of blunt force trauma to her head, and she was sexually assaulted. The male relative who last saw Keyana alive is currently assisting police with their investigations. Her death followed the murder of one-year-old Jacob Munroe on November 19.

The infant’s body was found stuffed in a cesspit at the rear of his father’s Maracas, St Joseph home. A male relative has been charged and will appear in court today. No one has been charged so far in Keyana’s case.

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