Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CPA), Ann Greene, during a stakeholder consultation to tackle child abuse, emphasised to police officers the need to have alleged perpetrators apprehended swiftly, stating that charges should be laid within 72 hours.
A release from the Ministry of Social Protection related that the CPA, in its bid to “prevent, reduce and alleviate the effects of abuse and neglect of children”, has begun meeting with stakeholders with the aim of fostering partnerships between the CPA and other agencies, including the Guyana Police Force, probation officers, the health and education sectors, governmental departments, churches, youth and community groups and NGOs.
The organisation’s theme this year is, “Every Child’s Life is worth preserving”.
“You must be proactive! All police stations should strive for cases to go before the court in 72 hours. Sexual abuse is a crime and the police can’t work out an arrangement with people at the police station. The issues cannot stop at the police station; if it happens there it is corruption. Police have to charge and there is a reluctance with the police sometimes to get persons charged,” Greene stated at the forum, noting that the sloth with which stations usually institute charges often allow perpetrators to flee the country or evade the case.
However, according to the release, Greene’s concern led to officers present highlighting that they find it difficult to obtain evidence in cases of this nature.
It was reported that the CPA Director responded by stating that parents should be held accountable, and recommended that police can take a statement from the child in the presence of a probation officer in those instances.
It was then noted that Greene acknowledged that there is some reluctance from probation officers to hasten child abuse cases, however, she reminded that their first responsibility and duty is to the child and so they must do their best to ensure that the child is free from abuse and the perpetrator is locked away.
“The sympathy should be to the child. We will take a stand to hold parents accountable. Too many times these sinister acts go unreported, which can cause a child to become self-destructive if the appropriate measures and counselling are not taken seriously. We also need the churches and youth groups, the education sector, the health sector and the judiciary system to work together to put a stop to child abuse,” Greene said.
It was noted that in 2018, 481 cases of child abuse were reported to the CPA, while 134 have already been reported for 2019.