‘Wandering’ girls at centre of orphanage drama reunited with relatives

The three teenaged, orphaned girls who were last year sentenced to the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) after being held at the Albion Police Station on the Corentyne for 24 days, have been reunited with relatives after authorities were forced to remove them from the Canaan Home at Port Mourant.

Sources told Stabroek News yesterday that one week after the girls were placed at that home after their release from custody by Magistrate Rabindranauth Singh following an appeal of their sentence, they were removed. A source close to the home told Stabroek News that they were forced to call in the authorities for disciplinary reasons and the girls were removed from the home.

According to information provided, after the girls were removed they were eventually re-united with relatives and are said to back in school and doing well.

The three girls, two 15-year-olds and a 13-year-old, were removed from Camal International Home for Children and Battered Women late last year by the police and charged for wandering. They were later sentenced to two years each at the New Opportunity Corps (NOC), a correctional facility at Onderneeming, Essequibo Coast by Magistrate Singh. Another girl, who is 15, was also charged but released into the custody of an aunt.

After their sentencing, the girls were held for 24 days at the Albion Police Station as police awaited probation reports and a birth certificate for one of the girls before taking them to the Sophia Juvenile Holding Centre and then to the NOC.

Their detention led to a public outcry and Minister of Human Services & Social Security, Jennifer Webster ordered a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate the Camal Home where the girls were staying and where they were allegedly being ill-treated.

There has been no public information on the outcome of that COI but incidentally Ayo Dalgetty-Dean, who is chairing the COI, is also the chairperson of the visiting committee that was set up by the ministry years ago to monitor homes. The other members of the committee are: Saudia Feroze, Erma Bovell, Joan Ann Edghill and Claudia Munroe.

Human rights activist Karen de Souza, who had described the girls being held in police custody  as “criminal” and had declared that the police, the magistracy, the Child Care & Protection Agency (CC&PA) and the Ministry of Human Services all stood indicted over their treatment of the teens, had questioned how Dalgetty-Dean could be in fact investigating herself.

Founder of the home Carmen Kissoon had told Stabroek News that the girls had run away on previous occasions and they were brought back. She had said too that because the girls were prevented from leaving they had threatened to commit suicide. This prompted her to call in the police and officers from the CC&PA.

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