Categorized | International, Local, News, Regional

Child abuse on St Helena ‘covered up by Foreign Office’ admits government

 

FCO admits denial of child abuse report’s existence to UN was ‘erroneous’

Untitled-2

Former premier Reuben Meade signs child abuse MOU

Khin-Sandy Lwin  UNICEF representative at MOU signing

Khin-Sandy Lwin UNICEF rep at MOU signing

Following activities within the last couple years highlighting the issues of child sexual (and violence) abuse, the signing of an MOU between DFID, UNICEF and some UK Overseas Territories, which was hosted in Montserrat;, as well as initiatives through the OECS Commission, HMG is demonstrating its commitment through its 2015-16 budgetary aid to Montserrat. The Child Safeguarding program with DFID and UNICEF signing took place just over a year ago.

Addressing a report that came out of the consultancy by the Lucy Faith Foundation, which the Governor refuse to publish, other than providing it to the media, and which in our opinion fell short of meaningful, except for the funding obtained going forward (to nowhere), he said: “Progress on establishment of a Child Safeguarding Board has been limited to gathering information. In the region, only Barbados has established such a Board,” he added, informing also that the Department of Social Services is also contacting St Helena so that they can share the terms of reference for, and composition of, the Board that was established there.”

The above is the reference as we publish the article which was written three months before we published a follow-up on the ‘Child Safeguarding initiative’. It is to highlight a kind of callousness and ignorance that continue to exist in the governance and management of the affairs of Montserrat. The Governor call recently refer to it as ‘incompetence’ without recognizing that it was pointing to himself.

 By Mark Piggott

St Helena measures 10 by 5 mi - has a population of 4,255 lower than Montserrat

. St Helena measures 10 by 5 mi – has a population of 4,255 lower than Montserrat

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been forced to admit it made an “erroneous” report to the United Nations in which it denied the South Atlantic island of St Helena had problems with child abuse.

Two UK social workers who went to work on St Helena – which, together with Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, forms part of a British Overseas Territory – were shocked by what they found on the island.

Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama went to work on St Helena but say they were victimised, ignored and finally forced out for whistleblowing about child abuse. They are now suing the FCO and Department for International Development for constructive dismissal.

They are now suing the FCO and Department for International Development for constructive dismissal.

On learning of the social worker’s claims, the FCO commissioned a report by children’s charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. The report’s draft findings – leaked to the whistleblower website – included:

  • Saint Helena has a culture of acceptance of child abuse.
  • There are a number of serial child sex offenders and serial victims on the island.
  • Female victims of child abuse are dubbed ‘slags’ by islanders and persecuted.
  • Juries only convict the most serious sexual abuse cases.
  • Puberty, rather than the age of consent, is considered acceptable for sex.
  • Police are too accepting of older men’s relationships with underage girls.
  • Brutal sexual conduct is considered the norm.

The report also raises concerns that a British-funded airport due to open in 2016 could make St Helena a magnet for sex tourists who wish to have sex with young girls: “Existing vulnerabilities and confusions on St Helena in respect of sexual conduct might prove ripe for exploitation by more sophisticated visitors.”

The report was not published. When the FCO was asked by the UN about the island in 2013, the FCO said the report found “no evidence of sexual exploitation”.

The FCO has now told the Sunday Times: “It was a former member of St Helena government staff who included the erroneous line in the report, and we have now changed the clearance process so it can’t happen again.”

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

 

FCO admits denial of child abuse report’s existence to UN was ‘erroneous’

Untitled-2

Former premier Reuben Meade signs child abuse MOU

Khin-Sandy Lwin  UNICEF representative at MOU signing

Khin-Sandy Lwin UNICEF rep at MOU signing

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Following activities within the last couple years highlighting the issues of child sexual (and violence) abuse, the signing of an MOU between DFID, UNICEF and some UK Overseas Territories, which was hosted in Montserrat;, as well as initiatives through the OECS Commission, HMG is demonstrating its commitment through its 2015-16 budgetary aid to Montserrat. The Child Safeguarding program with DFID and UNICEF signing took place just over a year ago.

Addressing a report that came out of the consultancy by the Lucy Faith Foundation, which the Governor refuse to publish, other than providing it to the media, and which in our opinion fell short of meaningful, except for the funding obtained going forward (to nowhere), he said: “Progress on establishment of a Child Safeguarding Board has been limited to gathering information. In the region, only Barbados has established such a Board,” he added, informing also that the Department of Social Services is also contacting St Helena so that they can share the terms of reference for, and composition of, the Board that was established there.”

The above is the reference as we publish the article which was written three months before we published a follow-up on the ‘Child Safeguarding initiative’. It is to highlight a kind of callousness and ignorance that continue to exist in the governance and management of the affairs of Montserrat. The Governor call recently refer to it as ‘incompetence’ without recognizing that it was pointing to himself.

 By Mark Piggott

St Helena measures 10 by 5 mi - has a population of 4,255 lower than Montserrat

. St Helena measures 10 by 5 mi – has a population of 4,255 lower than Montserrat

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been forced to admit it made an “erroneous” report to the United Nations in which it denied the South Atlantic island of St Helena had problems with child abuse.

Two UK social workers who went to work on St Helena – which, together with Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, forms part of a British Overseas Territory – were shocked by what they found on the island.

Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama went to work on St Helena but say they were victimised, ignored and finally forced out for whistleblowing about child abuse. They are now suing the FCO and Department for International Development for constructive dismissal.

They are now suing the FCO and Department for International Development for constructive dismissal.

On learning of the social worker’s claims, the FCO commissioned a report by children’s charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. The report’s draft findings – leaked to the whistleblower website – included:

The report also raises concerns that a British-funded airport due to open in 2016 could make St Helena a magnet for sex tourists who wish to have sex with young girls: “Existing vulnerabilities and confusions on St Helena in respect of sexual conduct might prove ripe for exploitation by more sophisticated visitors.”

The report was not published. When the FCO was asked by the UN about the island in 2013, the FCO said the report found “no evidence of sexual exploitation”.

The FCO has now told the Sunday Times: “It was a former member of St Helena government staff who included the erroneous line in the report, and we have now changed the clearance process so it can’t happen again.”