Parents can be charged for attempting to halt child sex offence probes

first_img…Police, parent/guardian cannot stop investigations – CCPA DirectorOnce a child sexual abuse matter is reported to relevant authorities, neither the police nor the parent of that minor can stop that investigation.This is according to Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency, Ann Greene, who told Guyana Times during a telephone interview on Saturday that by law, Police ranks are mandated to proceed with an investigation in such a regard, and then obtain legal advice on the way forward.The CCPA Director added that under the Sexual Offences Act, a parent or guardian cannot stop an investigation or try to stop it at any police station. “The Child Protection Act says if the police are investigating a report they need to get the Child Care people involved because we have to look at the care of the child, so together we will be involved in the investigation,” Greene said.The CCPA Director warned that under the Sexual Offences Act, if a parent tries to prohibit an investigation from being conducted, then that parent can also face charges.She made reference to a particular case that officers attached to the CCPA in Region Three are presently pursuing in which a teacher allegedly had sexual relations with a teenage student.The mother of the child reportedly visited the police station which is handling this investigation to indicate that she was “dropping charges” against the teacher. However, according to Greene, if this is what transpired then it would not make a difference since the matter has to be investigated and will not be swept under the rug.“That mother might or could be charged as an accessory because parents cannot stop an investigation. If the police are putting up a case, they could put up that the parent is reluctant but the case still has to go up to the DPP. It should go up to the DPP who will give advice if there is enough evidence to charge the perpetrator.”Meanwhile, Deputy Commander of D Division (West Bank Demerara-East Bank Essequibo), Dion Moore, when contacted by this publication, confirmed that ranks did not and will not be halting the probe into the particular case.He explained that investigations, particularly those involving sexual abuse of a minor, have to be thoroughly investigated and that there are legal steps which need to be followed.According to Moore, all police ranks are aware of this, and reiterated that the case in question is still active.“Based on what I know; the matter is still under investigation. I do not know of any dropping of this matter. The matters have to go before the court or get advice as the case may need. The police do not take it upon themselves to drop any matter,” he stated.Two weeks ago, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Resident Representative to Guyana, Sylvie Fouet stated that data retrieved from a mixed survey throughout Guyana by UNICEF revealed that over 75 per cent of the children interviewed reported that they experienced some form of abuse in their lives.This survey was conducted in various communities and households across the country and according to statistics, between 20 and 30 per cent of these children and youths have been subjected to some form of sexual violence.She had emphasised that no one person or agency could create a safe environment for the country’s children and youths and as such, all hands should be on deck to change social norms and cultural silence on the issue of child sexual abuse in Guyana.Meanwhile, acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards had pointed out prior to the establishment of the Sexual Offences Court in Georgetown (2017) and in Berbice, there was a very low conviction rate and low reporting of sexual abuse cases.She explained that in some cases, victims may believe that they would be subjected to harsh environments, and are reluctant to pursue the act of seeking justice for the crime committed against them.However, Justice Cummings-Edwards reminded that the aim of the Sexual Offences Court is to ensure that the environment is conducive to victims and support services are offered. Quite soon, she said, another such court will be established in Suddie, Essequibo. (Kristen Macklingam)last_img read more