Opposition complains about ‘army of street children’

Abused and abducted children have been shamefully neglected by the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) as it is yet to proclaim legislation created eight years ago to protect them, says Opposition Senator Dr Jennifer Jones-Kernahan.

The package of children’s legislation was originally laid by the Opposition United National Congress Alliance (UNC-A), when it was in office as the UNC, in 2000.   

"What we have in this country, Mr Vice President, is an administration that is guilty of the most unconscionable, cynical neglect, shameful neglect of the children of this country over the past seven years," Jones-Kernahan said.

She made the assertion during Tuesday’s sitting of the Senate as the Government sought the passage of a bill that is meant give The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction the force of law in Trinidad and Tobago.

Jones-Kernahan said the issue of international child abduction in itself should be dealt with in separate legislation but should comprise a package of bills to address serious issues regarding the welfare of children in Trinidad and Tobago.

Her fellow Opposition Senator, Mohammed Faisal Rahman, agreed, "We have a growing army of street children in this country," Rahman said.

In laying the bill, Attorney General Bridgid Annisette-George laid the case that specific legislation is needed to deal with cross-border child abductions, especially those carried out by parents in custody cases.

The bill seeks to establish a Central Authority to Child Abduction, the functions of which would be discharged by the Attorney General.

"Several thousand children are the victims of international parental child abduction each year. In fact, Mr Vice President, we in Trinidad and Tobago have not been spared such a development," Annisette-George said.

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