By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CPA), Ann Greene has issued a call for the establishment of a Special Victims Unit (SVU), describing it as the best way to effectively tackle issues of child abuse in Guyana.
During a recent interview with iNews, the career social worker explained that many perpetrators are allowed to escape the clutches of the law due to legal lacunas and a sloth in investigations by the Police Force.
The call was made as Guyana prepares to observe Child Protection Week 2015, which is being held under the theme “Strengthening Families to Protect Children,” from September 20 – 26.
Greene pointed out that legally, the police can only hold a suspect for up to 72-hours or three days on suspicion of a crime. If the police are unable to make a decision whether to charge the suspect, legally they are required to release the person.
According to Greene, in most cases that amount of time is not enough for the police to institute a charge, hence most abusers escape and by the time the police are ready to institute charges, they have fled the jurisdiction.
Greene said that the establishment of an SVU would be optimal since it would allow the agency and the police to work together to ensure that the investigation is complete and a charge filed against the suspect or suspects in some cases.
“Whatever needs to be done should be done in a hurry…It is time for a Special Victims Unit…where we can work together to bring these charges in 72 hours,” said Greene.
According to her, as a result of a deficiency on the part of the police, there are a host of charges for sexual assault on children pending as the police have not been able to wrap up the investigations on their end.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” the CPA Director affirmed. Meanwhile, Greene told iNews that there is need for sensitization on the differences between the laws and cultural norms in some rural communities, as persons perceive culture to be above the law.
She stated that there is a need for the gap between culture and the law of the land to be filled.
“In some culture groups, there is a tolerance level for sexual activity below that age. Our responsibility is to bridge the gap – culture/law. The laws of the land stand out. It is not for one group or some groups, it is for everybody. What you might say are child raising practices may be illegal,” said Greene.