Last update: 26-Jul-2014 6:30 am
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Call for probe into abuses at boys’ home
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan wants a police investigation into the April 8 death of Brandon Hargreaves, a 14-year-old who lived at St Michael’s School for Boys in Diego Martin. The boy was allegedly killed during a fight at the institution. At a news conference at the Parliament yesterday, Ramlogan reported his decision after a probe by the Gender, Youth and Child Development Ministry and said he had written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
Ramlogan said the investigators submitted their report to Minister Clifton De Coteau, who subsequently presented it to the AG for consideration and action. He said he decided to write to the DPP and the acting CoP to call for an immediate investigation based on the several allegations “and the kind of serious acts of negligence and abused that had been highlighted in the report.” He will also ask De Coteau to do an audit of the operations of the home.
Ramlogan told the DPP there had been conflicting reports on how the teenager died. He said the allegation was that two supervisors were sitting on a bench close to where a fight was taking place and “apparently ignored this fight,” adding the report indicated that supervisors ignored most fights at the home. The report had caused him “the greatest distress, alarm and concern,” the AG said.
It spoke about the misuse of things provided for the home by staff for their personal use, instances of boys beaten with rope and wood, sexual abuse and violent initiation ceremonies by the boys themselves, including physical violence. He said there were also allegations of racketeering and money laundering in which costs to the Government were padded to cover the cost of things for staff members.
The report also spoke about allegations of sexual abuse of the boys by staff, he said, adding that there were allegations of a female staff member taking a boy to her home and subsequently becoming pregnant. There were concerns on whether the father was a resident of the home. Ramlogan said the disciplinary measures were to be effected to ensure that people may be suspended pending the completion of the probe.
“This is not the kind of situation that the Government can tolerate or finds acceptable in any form or fashion,” he added and called on Williams to give the investigation the priority it demanded.