ngo coalition1The NGO Coalition for the Protection of Children and Youth has released a statement in light of arrests and allegations of inappropriate behavior made against three men involving a minor.

Earlier this week the police announced that investigations into the matter had commenced.

Below is the full statement.

In the light of the recent allegations and arrests we would like to raise the following issues:

To the Officials:
-When children make statements before the authorities they should feel confident and trust that these reports will be kept confidential until arrests have been made so that their safety is not compromised. They need to be sure that their cases will not be lost or discontinued without just reason.

They need to be confident that the investigation will be processed swiftly whoever the accused may be. They should be assured as well that where necessary they will be assisted in obtaining a restraining order.

To the Media:
– When children make statements Don’t Forget they are MINORS and protected by law from exposure in the media of ANY identifying details until there is a VERDICT; these include name, address, age, school and other specific identifiers.

To the public:
-Individuals are legally innocent until proven guilty in court; we need to avoid jeopardizing the case by warning those accused so they can lawyer up or even leave the country.

To Parents and Guardians:
-If someone offers you money to not proceed with a court matter this person is committing a crime. If you receive the funds and drop the case, YOU are also committing a crime. If someone offers you cash, take it, along with a witness immediately to the police at the highest level who will keep it as evidence of a crime.

To the children and young people who are thinking about telling their story we say:
-Abuse is not just intercourse. No one has a right to touch you sexually without your consent and if you are under 16 it does not matter if you consent or not. No one should send you porn or ask you to send them nude pictures, or engage you in sexting. This is illegal and can result in the person doing it going to jail. We will stand with you to help you make your report and to do the right thing to stop the abuse. Do not delete the pictures. We will help you Recognize what is Abuse, Report it, and Recover from it.

On all matters of violence and various assault of children, we the members of the Dominica NGO Coalition will continue to promote the safety and security of children, particularly those affected by sexual assault and we will continue to oversee that due process prevails towards the realization of justice. Remember, all children, just as adults, deserve to be SAFE, STRONG, and FREE!