“[…] To say that the UNC Government’s answer to the Sabga Report on abuse of children was to develop a suite of children protection legislation is simply a cop out for not dealing with the criminality that the report revealed in gory and sordid detail.
“The failure of then Minister of Community Empowerment, Sport and Consumer Affairs Manohar Ramsaran in reporting the matter to the police has given refuge and solace for the abusers of the children for over two decades…”
The following Letter to the Editor on the response of former UNC minister Manohar Ramsaran and his government to a 1997 Task Force report into abuse at children’s homes in Trinidad and Tobago was submitted to Wired868 by former People’s Partnership minister Devant Maharaj:
The irresponsible, reckless and cavalier manner in which then Minister of Community Empowerment, Sport and Consumer Affairs Manohar Ramsaran treated with the 1997 Sabga report into children’s homes should be condemned by each and every citizen of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The inaction of Minister Ramsaran has to be considered misconduct in public office. The refusal to act on the report is yet another indictment on the character of the United National Congress leadership style, morals and values in public life.
Conduct by a public officer may be unlawful even where there is no positive duty to act. As such, the government has to consider immediate action against Manohar Ramsaran.
For former minister Ramsaran to simply justify his apathy by saying that he passed the report on to Cabinet is unacceptable. Cabinet, which receives hundreds of notes and reports on a weekly basis, is unlikely to flag any note or report unless it is specifically highlighted by the reporting minister.
It is inconceivable that the report which specifically identifies sexual crimes against children [was] not only ignored by the then Minister but [was] also not further transmitted to the police for immediate action.
How can Minister Ramsaran indicate that he was not on a ‘witch hunt’ as a response for not reporting a crime to the police?
While it is true that no one could be locked up on allegations, as Ramsaran said, those allegations would only be proven correct if the matter was reported and investigated by the police and other relevant authorities.
To say that the UNC Government’s answer to the Sabga Report on abuse of children was to develop a suite of children protection legislation is simply a cop out for not dealing with the criminality that the report revealed in gory and sordid detail.
The failure of then Minister Ramsaran in reporting the matter to the police has given refuge and solace for the abusers of the children for over two decades.
Given the gravity of the report, then Minister Ramsaran had a responsibility not only to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago but a particular responsibility to the abused children to act with alacrity to ensure that their abusers were brought to justice.
It is shirking his role as minister to simply respond that it was passed to the Permanent Secretary following the Cabinet note to follow up on.
Instead of showing any sign of contrition and apologising for his political impotence, [he] boasted that he has had no regrets about not prosecuting anyone for their criminal acts against vulnerable children.
Instead, Ramsaran, acting as sole arbiter, asserted that the T&T judicial system was so dysfunctional at that time that he knew alleged abusers would walk and never face consequences.
What gave Ramsaran the authority to make such a conclusion that the legal system was so flawed, given that he was not remotely connected to any form of the legal profession?
The leadership of the UNC should apologise to the nation for its handling of this fiasco, much like the Catholic Church and Canadian Government [have] apologised to the indigenous population in Canada for the abuse of children in the church-run residential schools.
As a member of the UNC, I am yet again ashamed at the leadership of the party in this matter and its failure to offer any serious statement on it.