Letter of the Day | Don't blame rights activists for laziness, CISOCA
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I struggle to understand the position of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) on the situation with the 14-year-old boy who has been left among persons police have reason to suspect are sexually grooming him. There are two fundamentally problematic issues that arise from this case that must alarm us all as a society.
First, the case concerns a child. By virtue of the Age of Majority Act and Part IV of the Sexual Offences Act, a 14-year-old is a child by all legal standards, and when adults sexually groom children, they have committed an offence. The Child Care and Protection Act requires that duty bearers act when children are legally considered to be "in need of care and protection".
CISOCA was created for the very purpose of having specially trained police personnel to handle sensitive matters such as sexual abuse and child abuse. How is it then that in a case that involves the sexual abuse of a child, CISOCA takes a position that it can abdicate its statutory duty and go against its core mandate by not acting?
On what basis does CISOCA believe that it can choose to turn its back on a child who needs its help? If it is not equipped to protect children from sexual abuse, then who?
Second, I take issue with the lazy response that CISOCA fears being labelled as discriminatory. I think CISOCA should make clear who they think will call them discriminatory so much so that they choose not to fulfil their mandate. Does CISOCA adopt the same approach when child sexual abuse occurs in low-income communities? Do they not fear the label of class discrimination then?
Methinks CISOCA is engaging in something more dubious, i.e., the lazy practice of blaming human-rights defenders for the ineptitude of police. If the police, whose main role is to protect legal rights, cannot do their duty without violating human rights, police 'need fi stop keep'.
Moreover, the police do a disservice when they seek to blame human-rights defenders when they fail to carry out their law-enforcement functions. This only fuels anti-human rights sentiment in a society that has challenges in respecting the rights of citizens.
One's sexual orientation does not shield one from criminal investigation or prosecution, and no human-rights or LGBT-rights organisation in Jamaica has ever prevented the police from properly arresting and charging anyone, LGBT or otherwise, when they have committed a crime.
The police need to make clear whether it is their own attitudes towards the perceived sexuality of the 14-year-old in question that have led them to accord him less legal protection.
Is it because they believe him to be gay that they think he deserves to be sexually abused without their intervention? Come clean, CISOCA.
Policy & Advocacy Manager
Equality for All Foundation