Grandmother threatens Children’s Authority with lawsuit

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The head office of the Children’s Authority, on Wrightson Road in Port of Spain. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB

THE grandmother of a 13-year-old boy who was removed from her care in May and taken out of his primary school is threatening to sue the Children’s Authority for an order for his return to her.

Attorneys Joseph Sookoo and Raegan Ramlochan wrote to the authority about their client’s intention to pursue a judicial review and constitutional claim.

The pre-action protocol letter said the grandmother was granted an interim order for the boy’s custody, care and control in November 2022.

However, in May, he was removed from his primary school after speaking with a social worker and taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.

Ramlochan said the grandmother was not told until 3 pm. When the boy was discharged the next day, she was told she could not take him home because of an investigation.

The child eventually stayed at the hospital for five more days. She was allowed to visit him daily.

On May 14, Mother’s Day, the letter said the boy was removed from the hospital by a representative of the Children’s Authority.

The grandmother was not told why or where he was taken.

She and her husband attempted to make a report to the St Joseph police station but officers there called the authority. The grandmother was told her call would be returned but she never got one.

She also unsuccessfully tried to get answers from the authority’s head office in Port of Spain.

Eventually, she was told the boy was “safe” and was told not to contact the authority gain.

Ramlochan also said his client was accused of abusing the boy.

Days later, the authority’s representative went to the grandmother’s home to get his belongings, including school uniform, books and supplies but she refused to hand over the items unless her attorney was involved.

The authority’s representative also refused to answer questions on the allegations against the grandmother, the letter said.

The lawyers insist that the grandmother is willing and ready to assist in any investigation but is yet to be contacted or told anything.

“The proposed claimant remains unsure and uncertain as to the reasons why the minor child was taken from her and is of the view that no bonafide investigation into any allegation against her is ongoing…”

The letter said over four months have passed with no charges being laid against the grandmother, there does not seem to be an ongoing investigation and is allegedly in the care of other relatives, one of whom has been charged with a criminal offence.

The lawyer said when the child was taken in May, the authority must have deemed him to be in need of care and protection beyond what the grandmother could provide.

Ramlochan said that even if there was a legitimate reason to take the minor child, his client has been denied any opportunity to defend herself.

The authority was given seven days to acknowledge receipt of the letter and 30 days to respond in keeping with the protocols governing pre-action letters.