Long wait for Children’s Law

| 11/02/2009

(CNS): The chairman of a non-profit organisation that raises funds for the victims of child abuse has voiced his support for the proposed amendments to the Children’s Law to implement mandatory reporting of child abuse in the Cayman Islands, as well as the enactment of the law itself. In a general letter to the media on behalf of Hedge Funds Care Cayman, Peter Cockhill (left) says the amendment will only be effective if the Children’s Law is actually implemented and should be a priority. Cockhill says of the Children’s Law, which has still has not been enacted despite a bill being passed in 1994, “The time is now.”

The law will be a powerful tool for the protection of children, he notes. “There are many challenges facing Cayman and much important and worthwhile legislation that is competing for the time and attention of Cayman’s elected representatives. The Children’s Law should be a priority, however, as providing protection for the most vulnerable members of our society is both a moral imperative and an essential safeguard for Cayman’s future.”

Cockhill notes that two years ago, as part of its annual grant-making phase, Hedge Funds Care brought together in a forum, representatives from every agency in Cayman dealing with child care and protection to discuss child abuse and neglect. “It was encouraging to witness the high level of passion and determination to care and protect vulnerable children, but it was also depressing and frustrating to hear many stories of persons not reporting abuse because of their concern as to potential professional and social repercussions of so doing. The proposed amendment would make it a legal requirement to report suspected child abuse (with an assurance of confidentiality).”

In a letter to The Caymanian Compass, dated 13 January 2009, Mary J. Lawrence bemoans the 14 years since the bill was passed and signed into the law, but not enacted or put into force, awaiting the draft of the necessary regulations.

“And there the matter ended,” Lawrence writes. “In 2002, while serving as a consultant to the minister responsible for Family Services, Dr Frank McField, I drew the matter to his attention, pointing out the dire need for such legislation by the courts. However, in its original form, the law was totally unworkable, placing, as it did, the onus for its implementation on the grand court instead of the summary courts where justices of the peace could be usedto implement it.”

She continues, “Thus, in view of the many amendments needed to make the legislation workable, the decision was taken to draft a new law, which again was taken to Parliament, passed, signed by the governor, and put on a shelf to await the drafting of regulations, which are necessary for its implementation.

“Fourteen long years have gone by since we started on this journey; years in which the programmes and facilities demanded by the law are still to come; years in which a whole generation has grown up and moved on; years in which we have breached the convention again and again; years in which successive governments have come and gone – and still we wait! Even now, if we manage to complete all the necessary legal steps for its implementation, there is still the vigorous training programme which all stakeholders must undergo, for this, too, awaits the regulations.”

Lawrence goes further and suggests the rights of children should be enshrined in the proposed bill of rights for the new constitution. “I do not believe these should be left to the whims and fancies of any political directorate. Until this is done, successive governments, and in turn, society, will continue to ignore the rights of this most vulnerable, and yet most valuable, sector of our society – the young child.”

Cockhill concludes in his letter, “We wait in eager anticipation for the Children’s Law, with the proposed amendment, to be brought into effect in 2009. Passing this important legislation rather than deferring it to a successor administration, would be an effective way for Cayman’s elected representatives to demonstrate their commitment to present and future generations of Cayman’s children.”

Hedge Funds Care Cayman is a not-for-profit organisation that is comprised of professionals in the hedge fund industry who are committed to raising funds for projects designed to treat the victims of child abuse and neglect. The NGO has raised over $950,000 in the past four years that has supported essential care and support along with public awareness campaigns for key providers of child services, including, amongst others the following: the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the Nadine Andreas Foster Home (NCVO), the Ministry of Education, the Department of Children and Family Services, the CAYS Foundation and the Human Rights Commission.



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  1. Anonymous says:

    I note that the HRC has been pushing for this law as well and have listed it as an example of governments human rights abuses in the constitution. For once I agree with the HRC – the treatment of children is a disgrace – the incest and sex abuse is allowed to go unchecked!

    people always praise Cayman as being a safe place to raise a family – but these are some of the dirty little secrets that governent likes to hide.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I for one would like to listen to those members of government explain just why this law has not been enacted? Since 1994…that is shameful.

    Don’t bother to tell me how important children are to you; your inaction speaks volumes.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If the current minister stays in power the wait will be even longer. Don’t hold your breath and if we get anything it will be an election ploy.

    On Sandra Catron’s petition she asked for mandatory reporting. This is long overdue!!

  4. Twyla M Vargas says:

    THANKS VERY MUCH,  Mr Cockhill for your Non profit organization,  interest in assisting with the children,s welfare of the Cayman Islands. 

    It would be very pleasing to the ears and eyes to learn more of your general backgound to take on such a challenge.  Lets hear of some of the things your organization have planned for this venture, and have contributed to in the past to help the children of Cayman.  Well done.  Be blessed.