Journalists urged to keep pressing nat’l issues in focus
Reverend Sean Major-Campbell, pastor of Christ Church in Vineyard Town, Kingston, is calling for more thorough audits of all agencies tasked with protecting children in the wake of the Office of the Children’s Advocate’s (OCA) damning report into the relationship between the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) and Carl Robanske.
Delivering a sermon to kick off National Journalism Week on Sunday, Major-Campbell urged the press not to let the issue be forgotten without concrete action.
“Jamaica needs a free press to call for an audit of all agencies tasked with protecting children. How many of Jamaica’s children have had complaints made under the concern of sexual offences and ... how are these offences treated? I shudder to think of what would happen if we did not have a free press in Jamaica,” Major-Campbell said.
CPFSA CEO Rosalee Gage-Grey has been in the firing line since the release of the report with several groups calling for her resignation.
Youth Minister Fayval Williams said that after learning about the CPFSA’s engagement of Robanske, who had his teaching licence suspended in the United States over inappropriate conduct involving minors, she gave an “unambiguous directive” to Gage-Grey to sever ties with Robanske and his Embracing Orphans charity.
The OCA reported that despite the concerns surrounding Robanske, he was still allowed access to wards of the State at the St James-based My Father’s House, which was established and heavily funded by the charity.
In addition, the OCA further reported that even after 2018 when the CPFSA became aware of his inappropriate contact with a minor in 2018, Robanske was allowed full access to the girls, some of whom were minors.
Major-Campbell said the theme for the National Journalism Week church service – ‘A Free Press For a Free Jamaica’ – was most fitting at this time.
“Interestingly, human rights work depends on the capacity for press freedom ... . Jamaica needs a free and responsible press. ... Jamaica needs free press at a time when political games may derail the process leading to a realisation of the Republic of Jamaica,” he added.
“Jamaica needs a free press to still call for post-Cabinet briefings. Jamaica needs a free press to still call for reparatory justice. Jamaica needs a free press to still call for political debates,” the clergyman added.
The National Journalism Week church service was organised by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), which is celebrating its 80th anniversary.
Major-Campbell also had words of encouragement for journalists.
“In this, the 80th year of the Press Association of Jamaica, may you remain strong in your mandate for a high standard of journalism, resolute in your advancement of the professional development of journalists and committed in celebrating the meritorious work of your members. By serving the ideals of your PAJ constitution, you are serving Jamaica,” he said.