Trinidad to set up task force to protect children following gruesome killing

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Murdered six - year - old Keyana Cumberbatch
Murdered six – year – old Keyana Cumberbatch

[www.inewsguyana.com]Following the gruesome killing of six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch, the Trinidad and Tobago government is moving speedily to curb violence against children.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said her government will be creating a child protection task force (CPTF) to better safeguard the nation’s children from imminent danger; even within their own homes.

In a statement to the media, Persad-Bissessar said part of the duty of the task force is to make recommendations on how the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago can become fully empowered to carry out its mandate and to recommend “how emergency responses can be widened, accelerated and structured in a manner to immediately respond to the needs of children who are at risk”.

The Child Protection Task Force will also be revamping intervention services of the state and non-governmental organisations.

“The Child Protection Task Force’s first task is to recommend measures aimed at overhauling and advancing protection, care and intervention services of the state and non-governmental organisations,” the prime minister said.

The Child Protection Task Force will complement the immediate emergency response units in the education and gender, youth and child development ministries.

This week the Child Protection Task Force will meet with the nation’s top advocates to discuss the “rights, protection and well being of children,” Persad-Bissessar said.

As part of its mandate, the prime minister said the CPTF will take a “comprehensive review of all provisions, regulations, legislation and public sector processes focused on the care, health and protection of children”. The CPTF will also “recommend how, through policy intervention and partnerships with non-governmental and community organisations, the state can roll back risks to children”.

This move was prompted by the latest child killing in the country. Six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch was smothered, sexually assaulted and killed by the hands of an unknown assailant.

Pathologist Valerie Alexandrov told the media the scenario is uncertain. Little Cumberbatch was sexually assaulted either while unconscious or after she died. Her body was found bundled inside of a barrel in an apartment in Maloney in East Trinidad. She went missing last Monday.

Cumberbatch’s killing came just days after a toddler – Jacob Monroe — was found dead in a cesspit at his Maraca, St Joseph, home on November 20.

The macabre scenes incensed the population, with much of that rage spilling over into social networking sites such as Facebook.

In response to the killing of Cumberbatch on her message page, Persad-Bissessar tweeted a warning to the perpetrator that the state will find them and punish them for what she described as a crime too horrific to imagine.

“The murder of young Keyana is a tragedy that is simply too horrific to imagine. My thoughts and my prayers are with Keyana’s family, but as prime minister, I will not allow this to happen to our children. I will not allow it to continue, enough is enough! And to the one who is responsible for this crime or any crime such as this, we will find you, and we will punish you!” the prime minister said.

The prime minister visited the home of the six-year-old child victim and spoke with Keyana’s mother, Simone Williams and other relatives. Persad-Bissessar assured the family that “the state will provide every possible support to the family in their time of grief and anguish”.

“It is very hard to imagine the depth of agony being experienced by Ms Williams, as well as her relatives and friends. This is not a moment that any parent or any person can ever be prepared for. And, what happened to Keyana is something no child must ever have to experience!” she said. [Caribbean News Now]

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