Human rights advocate, Delia Cuffy-Weekes is appealing to the public to be mindful of how they disseminate information involving victims of crime.
She told Dominica News Online (DNO) during an interview that she was not in a position to give an informed opinion the recent matter involving the alleged kidnapping of a teenager because of the conflicting versions of the story that had emerged.
However, Weekes-Cuffy volunteered some general advice to the public regarding the dissemination of information in such cases.
She said some people tend to share information based on their emotions and sometimes end up doing more harm than good.
“If a person is abducted, while they want the general public to assist, but it is better to channel all of your information to the police and the police will appeal to the public and release what information they think that the public should have access to,” she said. “But you cannot be releasing information to the public that can actually place the person at risk.”
According to Cuffy-Weekes, when certain things are out in the public domain, “you cannot take them back.”
She advised that if somebody is missing or suspected to be missing, the matter should be reported to the police with as much factual information.
“If you do not want to be identified, because sometimes people don’t report things because they don’t want to be caught up in the whole thing, then they use the hotlines that are available where you can give information anonymously,” she stated. “Also underscore the importance of limiting the information that is distributed via Social Media, because it may actually place the victim, or whatever you want to refer to the person as, in more danger.”
She explained that it is not only members of the public that have access to Social Media, “but if a crime has actually been committed the perpetrators have access to Social Media too.”
Cuffy-Weekes explained further that based on what the public knows, the perpetrators can take follow-up action against the victim such as moving the victim to another location.
Furthermore, Cuffy-Weekes said, one has to consider in the case of an abduction that there is an underlying social problem.
“You would have to question why a person would want to abduct an innocent person and focus on the stress that you put the family under,” she noted.
On the other hand, if the person is not abducted and planned it to look as if they were kidnapped, “then, what is the underlying problem?” Cuffy Weekes asked. “Is it that the child is unhappy at home? Is it that the child is being abused? Is it that the child is forced into sexual slavery? Or whatever the case may be….we have to look at all the possible repercussions.”
The human rights advocate called for more human compassion urged people to to dispel the myth that if one seeks help with regard to their mental or psychological health, “you are crazy.”
“Sometimes you have certain issues that you cannot work through on your own and you need professional help,” Cuffy-Weekes observed.
She said if one cannot afford to pay for a private doctor there are government-paid psychiatrists and psychologists that persons can go to who are obligated to work with the victim.
Meantime, Cuffy Weekes is concerned about young people having access to guns and the number of shooting incidents which have been occurring, some which were fatal.
“Where are the guns coming from? Why our young people are just killing off each other with no remorse?” she questioned. “Those are some of the things we need to look at.”