NIA-CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 11, 2011) — A strong appeal was issued to the public on Nevis for their full cooperation with the Ministry and Department of Social Development in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) in their quest to bring perpetrators of crimes against the island’s children to justice.
The passionate plea came from Minister responsible for Social Development and Deputy Premier on Nevis Hon. Hensley Daniel, in statement at a sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly on Monday October 10, 2011, as he sought to draw attention to the difficulties faced by the Administration with regard to the care and direction of children on Nevis.
“In recent times the Ministry of Social Development and in particular the Department of Social Development, has had to deal with several instances of child sexual abuse, child neglect, physical abuse and as a result, for the year so far we have had to move 15 children into foster care…
“I would urge the public to cooperate fully with the Ministry and Department of Social Development as we seek to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.
The Minister said the situation did not come without its share of economic burden for the NIA. He explained that once a child was removed from their natural home and placed into an alternate home, their care and maintenance became the responsibility of the Government.
Mr. Daniel reminded that the NIA had been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child and therefore the onus was on every member of the public to ensure that the island’s children were cared for and protected in the best possible environment.
“We have signed on to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which speak to safety, matters of proper shelter and so on and if we continue with 15 cases and given the challenging financial situations we are going to have greater difficulty. Here is a situation where our behaviour is creating economic difficulty for us,” he said.
The Minister used the occasion to point to some of the abuses committed against children on Nevis among them abuse of minors.
“We have had instances of sexual abuse of minors and those matters are being pursued vigorously by the Department of Social Development and I want to say to the public you have a responsibility to report these matters and to ensure that you join with the staff at the Department to ensure that the children are properly cared for,” he said.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Daniel who had also worked as a Consultant in Social Development in St. Kitts and Nevis and other parts of the Caribbean before his tenure as Social Development Minister in the NIA, said there was a social dimension to incest in some parts of the Caribbean and it was likely the same was occurring on Nevis.
“In some of our countries of the Caribbean, there is a social dimension to incest that is to say, children growing up under the same roof in the same home though not related by blood are perceived to be brothers and sisters and that it is not acceptable in those countries for there to be sexual relations among children or people who grow up and live under the same roof in much that same way as siblings.
“We probably have to add that social dimension to ours because we have instances of that nature in our country and I would like to end by saying we have a comprehensive responsibility for ensuring the safety and protection of the children,” he said.