By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Another student of the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) is leveling allegations of physical and sexual abuse against the caregivers at the juvenile detention centre.
The 16 – year –old female student wrote a letter to her parents, detailing the ordeal she has to face on a day – to – day basis. Part of the letter read, “I am a student of the NOC and every day I am abused by the caregivers there. I am beaten every day on my head, back, face and private parts. Even as we protest and say to the caregivers not to touch us there, you have the caregivers at the institution placing their hands on our vagina and then claiming that they are doing body search.”
iNews (www.inewsguyana.com) received a copy of the hand written letter, which was submitted by the child’s parents to the main opposition Party – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
APNU Member of Parliament, Christopher Jones told a media conference on Friday, May 2 that this information was passed on to the officials at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS) and the Human Services Ministry. However, no action was taken.
“They were told that the letter means absolutely nothing because everyday students of the NOC make such allegation.”
Jones is of the view that there is a clear attempt by the Ministry to cover up the allegations.
No Confidence in Dr Frank Anthony
Meanwhile, the APNU says that it has no confidence MCYS Minister, Dr Frank Anthony in managing the NOC.
“We have lost confidence in Dr Frank Anthony as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports to execute his function as it relates to the NOC,” Jones said.
Additionally, APNU Leader, David Granger called for a Commission of Inquiry (COI) be convened to investigate the entire administration, organisation and management of the NOC.
The Party also proposed that the responsibility for the Corps be transferred to another Ministry or Agency that possesses the requisite personnel and skills and is better prepared to administer the lives of juveniles sympathetically.
“It is evident that a new approach and a new agency are needed to curb the perpetration of abuses and inter-personal violence which are still occurring in the Corps,” Granger told the news conference.
APNU is concerned that the worst incident of violence in the entire history of the Corps occurred in August 2012 and involved about one-third of the juveniles in the Corps.
The APNU leader noted that it is disturbed, particularly, by new reports of sexual harassment and exploitation of juvenile girls by male staff members and older males; by repeated ‘escapes’ and by the criminalising of juveniles by subjecting them to arrest, detention and prosecution by the Guyana Police Force in the criminal justice system.
On April 23, Dr Anthony challenged any inmate of the NOC who has been sexually abused in any way by staffers to make an official police report so that it can be investigated.
He was at the time responding to allegations which surfaced on April 22 where several female inmates who recently escaped from the institution in Essequibo are claiming they were molested by male staffers and older male inmates.
He had said then, “They are not angels, they are children with problems”.