New child protection legislation to be taken seriously Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Persons found guilty of abusing children in Barbados can face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of $100, 000 under the new child protection legislation.

Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey, during a press conference at Ilaro Court on Friday, detailed that the new Child Protection Bill, with its heavy penalties, signals Government is taking the protection of the nation’s children “extremely seriously”.

According to the Act, abuse refers to anyone who engages in “cruelty to children”.

Humphrey emphasised that legislation seeks to safeguard the interests of children. In the event where a child is in immediate danger or could be exposed to “unforgivable harm”, the Child Protection Authority will be allowed to remove the children without a court order.

“The officer would have to apply for a court order within 24 hours, but he can remove the child without a court. This is a safeguard against the interests of the child and currently it is not in the legislation, so this is a very important step for us,” Humphrey announced.

Mandatory reporting by “duty bearers” or persons acting in a professional capacity such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc, are listed for the first time.

“Persons who may take a child’s cell phone [and] who may see something on the phone that is clearly evidence of abuse, persons who in their professional capacity come into contact with the information that says Persons who in their professional capacity, come into contact with the information that says a child is being abused, then that person is duty bound to report that child abuse.”

Duty bearers who fail to report cases of child abuse are libable to a fine of $20, 000 or two years in prison.

Additionally, anyone who makes a deliberate false report faces one year imprisonment or a fine of $10, 000 under the new Act.

Individuals who impersonate an officer of the Child Protection Agency will be fined $10, 000 or spend two years in prison. Efforts to obstruct the Director or the staff of the Child Protection Agency from conducting their duties, will result in a $10, 000 fine or one year in prison.

” I know of cases where child care officers would have facilities and people would release dogs or make very threatening comments to the staff. And so, we are also protecting the children but we also have to protect the persons whose duty it is to protect the children,” Humphrey remarked.

The Minister of People Empowerment told local media the new legislation was greatly needed. He noted that the existing child protection laws, were aged and a “patchwork” of legislatures which failed to fully represent children and provided narrow grounds for intervention.

“Naturally, if you have a patchwork of legislation that in itself is a deficit. Therefore, you have to go to this place or that place to try to address issues pertaining to children….In this case, we have everything in one piece of legislation.”