Days after casting its investigation into the Department of Child and Family Services as purely a human resources matter, the Social Development Ministry has suggested it is looking into several matters including child abuse allegations we brought to their attention.
And, despite insisting the investigation is “ongoing”, there are no indications that an inquiry has started. Sources within government say that no one has approached DCFS staff with questions about the allegations. And litigation guardian Tiffanne Thomas told us that no one had contacted her about the internal investigation either.
Government has refused to say who is conducting the investigation and whether the probe will be broadened to look at systemic issues which put children at risk. And the Ministry has ignored additional queries seeking basic information such as a policies and procedures document for its children’s residential services.
The Ministry decided to launch an investigation after receiving a letter from lawyer Saul Dismont acting under Thomas’ instructions on behalf of a child.
The Ministry’s initial statement, responding to our story reporting that he and his Permanent Secretary Wayne Carey had been questioning staff, indicated that the probe was a “human resources matter” and narrowly focused on recent allegations of misconduct against the department’s director, Alfred Maybury, who has been suspended.
It said disciplinary action. if any, would follow civil service rules. According to the rules, a civil servant found guilty of misconduct could be subject to a formal warning. “Gross” misconduct attracts a series of penalties, including suspension or dismissal.
Meanwhile, children’s rights advocate Tiffanne Thomas reacted to the statement by stressing that the fresh allegations – some dating back years and including a claim that Permanent Secretary Wayne Carey and his subordinate Maybury ignored claims of abuse – indicated a “larger systemic issue”.
These matters are the subject of internal investigation which is ongoing. It is important that we do not prejudice such investigation by putting information into the public domain.
Thomas’ statement in full:
It is disheartening to hear of additional allegations surfacing as a result of this issue being made public; however it’s admirable that individuals are willing to come forward in order to have their concerns addressed on behalf of our children. In a jurisdiction the size of Bermuda the legitimate concern of shame associated with disclosing abuse is heightened, and we imagine that would be compounded should there be a pattern of allegations being ignored and/or ineptly investigated as suggested.
We take comfort in knowing that the investigation is ongoing, and reinforce yet again that these allegations potentially speak to a larger systemic issue and ought not be considered in isolation. As a Country we must be willing to acknowledge our individual and collective roles in protecting our children.
The Minister’s commitment to transparency is welcomed; however we appreciate that this must be measured in the context of preserving the integrity of the process and ensuring that the privacy of all parties is respected. Nonetheless we expect that such a process will be carried out objectively and with integrity for the benefit of all.
This article belongs to Politica ! The original article can be found here: Government continues stonewalling on DCFS investigation
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