KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday February 7, 2017 – Government Senator Matthew Samuda is calling for legislative changes that will see the imposition of a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment for convicted child abusers who have a high duty of care.
Making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate, Samuda identified pastors, police and teachers as those individuals who should face stiff penalties if they abuse children in their care.
He noted that while the existing law states there should be no discrimination based on profession, these changes are needed considering the recent cases of child abuse surfacing in the island.
Three members of the Moravian Church have been charged with having inappropriate relations with young girls. And as recently as last week, the head of the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) Superintendent Enid Ross-Stewart reported that the majority of alleged high-profile perpetrators of sexual offences against underage persons in Jamaica are pastors and policemen.
“I am deeply troubled by this,” Samuda said.
“The CISOCA boss and our security forces are to be given full support in rooting out and bringing to justice any corrupt person who may prey on our nation’s children – whether that person goes by the title pastor or police or whether that person is the average Jill or Joe. The rule of law must prevail.
“Our children place their trust in policemen, teachers and pastors who have a significant duty of care to them. But we are told by law enforcement that oftentimes some in those occupations are among the most prevalent of high-profile child abusers,” he added
However, Samuda noted that there were “many good policemen and pastors who dedicate their lives to making this country a better place and they are to be lauded and appreciated”.