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Newly formed task force to hold first meeting on Friday

 THE Child Protection Task Force appointed at the weekend by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will hold its first meeting this Friday, a media update from the Office of the Prime Minister stated yesterday.

The names of the members of the Task Force will be announced “upon the completion of protocols and confirmation of the acceptance by nominees”, the media release said.

The Task Force was announced last Sunday, four days after the body of six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch of Maloney was discovered stuffed into a shipping barrel, inside the apartment she shared with her mother, Simone Williams, her siblings and others.

Keyana was said to have gone missing last Monday. A male friend of Williams is now in custody in relation to the crime.

Persad-Bissessar visited Williams last Sunday and in announcing the decision to appoint a Task Force, called for a united front against crimes against children.

The OPM yesterday stated the expected role of the Task Force as follows:

“Among the objectives of the Task Force is to commence and complete and review of all provisions, regulations, legislation, and public processes to protect children, to provide recommendations on the issue, to create risk resolutions, to suggest ways to fully empowering the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, to provide recommendations on specific risk areas which will require State interventions, to suggest how early warning systems can be structured to provide for the detection of children who live in risk situations and the provision of sourcing improved counselling and specialist care services for children.”

It further stated that the Task Force is expected to report on its finding within six weeks.  

“Its recommendations will be discussed at Cabinet level and presented to Parliament thereafter,” the release stated.

“Implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force will take place through relevant ministries and state agencies. All previous surveys and reports relative to the issue of child protection will be revisited and considered by the Task Force.”

The release had earlier stated that the Task Force was formed “following several heinous crimes against the nation’s children” and will comprise “experts in childcare and protection”.

Two weeks ago, another child was killed.

One-year-old Jacob Munroe was beaten to death and his body dumped into a cesspit near his former Maracas Valley home.

A male relative is also in custody in relation to that crime.

“The mandate of the Task Force will be to carry out an in-depth analysis of the factors which cause an increased risk of crime against children, and to make proposals on how legislation, government, non-governmental organisations, parents, and other stakeholders can better protect children,” the release from the OPM stated.

“A number of recommendations have already been made and will form part of the review of the Task Force. The first meeting of the Task Force is carded for Friday 10 a.m. at the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development.”

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