Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke, has called for speedier finalisation of the Evidence Amendment Bill, to allow video-recorded statements from victims, particularly in child sexual abuse cases, to be used as evidence in the courts.
She contended that the procedures involved in these cases have to be made easier for child abuse victims, to ensure that they are not re-traumatised in the process.
“We, as adults and duty bearers, owe it to our children…to make it easier for them to report; to make it easier for them to go through the criminal justice system; to lay the ground work so firmly that perpetrators will be convicted and justice will be served,” she said.
She was speaking at the launch of a multi-agency model of child protection workshop at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, Tuesday (October 12).
Mrs. Clarke noted that the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) and other stakeholders have been working towards improving the mechanisms for reporting, investigating and handling child abuse cases, especially sexual abuse.
The workshop represented the third and final phase of a project to develop a multi-agency model of child protection. This approach would aid in simplifying the process in child abuse cases, where all the individuals and agencies would cater to the child, in one instance.
British High Commissioner, His Excellency Howard Drake, listens to a point from Director of the Family and Parenting Centre in Montego Bay, St. James, Dr. Beverley Scott, before the start of a workshop aimed at developing a multi-agency model for child protection, held on Tuesday (Oct. 12) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
To be held over a four-day period, October 12-15, the workshop is aimed at establishing a multi-agency response team for investigating child abuse, mainly sexual abuse; producing a manual and operating protocols for the multi-agency team; as well as providing guidelines and training for implementation of video-recorded child witness testimony, among other procedures.
The project is being co-ordinated by a team of persons drawn from the OCA, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Family and Parenting Centre. The Centre is managing the project with funding from the British High Commission.
For this phase of the project, the Commission is providing $9 million, bringing the total sum provided since the start of the project to $19 million.
British High Commissioner, His Excellency Howard Drake, said he was delighted to be able to continue to support the project, adding that it is “absolutely, fundamentally important to the future well being of this country.”