JENSEN LA VENDE and KALIFA CLYNE
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AG: Lev Tahor members to return to Canada
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan says nine members of the controversial Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor, who arrived at the Piarco International Airport on Monday, will be returned to Canada. In an interview with the T&T Guardian, Ramlogan said the T&T Government has been liaising with the relevant authorities in Canada and he was of the firm view that the welfare of the children was paramount in the matter. Saying the children were the subject of a child protection order in the provence of Quebec, Ramlogan added, “We are liaising with our counterparts to facilitate their swift return.”
Meanwhile, spokesman for the group Lee Bolton, speaking to the T&T Guardian from Canada yesterday, said it was reported that around 5 pm yesterday, law enforcement agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Preventional Police, Chatham Kent Police, Peel Regional Police and the Canadian Border Police, were expected to board a flight to Trinidad to escort the group back to Canada. She said the court gave the child protection service in Ontario the green light to return the children from Trinidad on Wednesday. “The child protection service in Ontario was granted an order to apprehend the children. The decision was made yesterday (Wednesday) but it was only revealed today (yesterday). It is set to happen tomorrow (today).”
And amid allegations of physical beatings, sexual abuse, underage marriage and forced medication of the children of Lev Tahor, Bolton, a Canadian human rights activist, made a final appeal to the T&T Government not to deport the sect members. The nine—three adult members of the sect and six children— were detained at Piarco by immigration officers. One official said the sect members were en route to Mexico and had refused to go back to Toronto. They also tried to get passage to Guatemala. Bolton said she understood their passports had been seized.
Lev Tahor persecuted, says ally
Bolton knocked the child protection system in Ontario, describing it as very intrusive and abusive to families and their children. Bolton, who is not Jewish and is not related to the Lev Tahor community, said, “Our child protection industry uses apprehension as a first option rather than try to keep the families together. It is my expert and educated opinion that the child protection industry in all of Canada is mainly about making money. “I have great concern if the children of the Lev Tahor should be sent back to Canada and the child protection agency is permitted to take these children into their care.” The Lev Tahor community relocated to Chatham, Ontario, from Quebec last November. Bolton said she and another advocates approached the community when they were having difficulty with the child protection workers. “It seemed right from the beginning that the Ontario and Quebec child protection agencies were on a mission to slander the Lev Tahor community by referring to them as ‘Taliban,’ ‘cult,’ and making several derogatory remarks and allegations concerning Rabbi Shlomo and other members of their community," Bolton said.
She said she spent several months with the community and some of the children and got to know some members quite well by spending time in their homes, office and around their school.
“I find the members of the Lev Tahor to be very kind and loving parents that only want what’s best for their children. The parents are not only affectionate with their own children, but help to look after other family members children when the need arises. “I personally have never witnessed or have any concerns of any type of abuse or neglect within this Lev Tahor community. As a matter of fact I wish every child in the world could experience some of the love, compassion, respect and care the children in the Lev Tahor Community are subjected to regularly,” Bolton said.
She added, “As much as I would like to have the entire Lev Tahor community back together in Chatham-Kent, it is my hope that doesn’t happen while they are still under the threat of having children apprehended by the child protection agency here and in Quebec.”