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More teeth coming for child abuse legislation

In the wake of recent killings of children, officials say legislation is key to establishing the legal framework for dealing with child abuse cases.


The package of children’s legislation, which is intended to give Government more teeth in responding to child abuse and other issues affecting youngsters should be re-introduced to the Parliament within a month’s time.

Carol-Ann McKenzie, communications specialist in the Ministry of Social Development, gave the undertaking yesterday during a telephone interview.

McKenzie said the Legislative Review Committee (LRC)—a Cabinet-appointed committee—was fine-tuning one aspect of the six-piece legislation, the Children’s Amendment Bill.

Once this process was completed, she said, the entire package would be ready to be sent to Parliament for debate.

McKenzie said the team was expected to meet again on Monday to consider fully the bill.

“All the other five pieces are already in a state of readiness...They have already been through the drafting and legislative review process,” Mc- Kenzie added.

Her assurance came amidst Tuesday’s grisly incident in which a seven-month-old baby boy was beaten to death in Carapo Village, Arima.

There have also been widespread calls for children’s legislation, in the aftermath of last year’s brutal killings of youngsters Sean Luke and Emily Annamunthodo.

The pieces of legislation that have already been signed by the LRC include the Children’s Authority Amendment Bill 2007; Children’s Community Residences, Foster Homes and Nurseries Amendment Bill 2007; Adoption of Children Amendment Bill 2007; International Child Adoption Bill 2007 (new); and the Family Court Bill 2007 (new).

McKenzie stressed, however, that while legislation was key to establishing the legal framework for dealing with child abuse cases, the Children’s Authority “would not be in every community and in every home.

“The people in these communities need to come forward with not just the cases of physical or sexual abuse, but neglect...They must report the cases,” she said, insisting it was a matter of social responsibility.

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