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MPs agree more should be done to protect T&T’s children

On Tuesday, Mathura’s skeletal remains were found in the shallow grave on Butu Street, Valsayn property where she and her family lived.

But the shock, horror and concerns have moved from off the pavement into the corridors of Parliament.

“This entire situation has shocked Trinidad and Tobago in terms of where we have reached as a country,” Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein said as he made his way into the Red House for yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.

The consensus among the parliamentarians was that arising out of the tragedy, it is clear more needs to be done to protect the nation’s children.

“This would have been a child who went missing and nobody knew, of course, somewhere along the system we would have failed her,” said Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes-Alleyne.

La Brea MP and Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie pointed out, “I think there may have been enough evidence up front for somebody to do something.”

San Fernando East MP and Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning said adults need to be more responsible and aware.

“We all have to become a lot more vigilant in what we do and a lot more careful in how we protect and treat our young people in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

This was all but echoed by Health Minister and St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh.

“I think all of us need to recognise that children are to be cherished, they are our future and let’s all act responsibly,” he said.

But, amid the concerns come a call for the police and child protection agencies to be put under scrutiny, as there were reports that neighbours contacted them about what they saw and heard taking place at Hannah’s home prior to her death.

Princes Town MP Barry Padarath said the claims need to be investigated.

“It cannot be that the most vulnerable in our society, which is our nation’s children, continue to be at the detriment of criminals and those who are charged with the responsibility to protect them, that protection doesn’t seem to be forthcoming, so that is really deeply troubling and worrisome,” he said.

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds maintained there are laws passed and agencies established to protect children who have been working.

“But there is an element that the law and the state cannot immediately regulate, that is to say the relationship between each of us within families.”

In responding to claims the authorities did not respond to calls on the reports at the Mathura home, Hinds said people will always talk but notwithstanding this, more has to be done to protect children in this country.

For Hinds, the Mathura story was an unfortunate state of affairs that had brought sadness and trauma to the people of this country.

Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally meanwhile called for the nation to use the tragedy to move forward together.

“I want to appeal to all citizens, whether it be Prime Minister, whether it be Leader of the Opposition, whether it be MPs, whether it be public servant, citizens as a whole, religious leaders, I want to appeal to everyone, we need to unite on this particular issue once and for all so that we can arrest this crime scourge. I am calling on all leaders, we need to get together to deal with this in the interest of our children,” he said.

On Wednesday, Children’s Authority CEO Sheldon Cyrus said there was an ongoing crisis where the protection of children was concerned. He said the authority has had to intervene in several horrific situations in which children exist.

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