Morris-Julian: It was PNM government that exposed abuse in children’s homes

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Morris-Julian. File photo/Roger Jacob

D’ABADIE/O’MEARA MP Lisa Morris-Julian highlighted the fact that it was the Dr Keith Rowley Government which had commissioned the Judith Jones Report which had exposed abuse in children’s care homes across the nation, speaking in the House of Representatives on Friday.

She spoke against a private motion by Princes Town MP Barry Padarath which had alleged the Government had failed to protect and support the nation’s children.

Morris-Julian began by saying Minister of Genders Affairs Ayanna Webster-Roy was a patron of St Jude’s Home which she visits to interact with the girls every time she has an opportunity, commenting, “We lead by example.”

She urged the Opposition to be mature enough to work with the Government, saying, “Let’s work together to fix what is broken in the system.”

Morris-Julian accused “those on the other side” of having failed the nation’s children in the past, by sitting on the 1997 report by Dr Robert Sabga which had also revealed abuse in children’s homes. By contrast, she praised the Government for initiating the Jones report which was presented within a year of the Jones committee being set up.

As soon as the report was ready, the Prime Minister took action such that it was laid in Parliament to ensure swift action would ensue, said Morris-Julian.

“Unlike 23, 24 years ago, the PNM actually laid it in Parliament. We want persons held accountable.

“It is only in light of this report that the Sabga report emerged from the darkness. Without this administration’s report, the report done under the UNC would have stayed buried – as their political careers – a sad distant memory of hidden mayhem.

“This administration is also strongly advocating that action be taken on the Sabga report, having the police investigate these matters with the greatest urgency.”

Saying each MP must ensure they were on the right side of history, she asked where Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar had been in 1997 when the Sabga report was completed. Persad-Bissessar had been a member of the Basdeo Panday Cabinet at that time.

Morris-Julian said the Jones report has resulted in the launch of a police hotline, Roman Catholic Church probe, and Task Force investigation.

“This Government will not stand idly by while their children are exposed to abuse.

“This lid on this coffin of abuse, secrets, lies and shame, has been lifted, thanks to this PNM Government.”

She recalled that in June 20-21 on Webster-Roy’s recommendation, Cabinet had agreed to set up the Jones investigation.

“The Member for Tobago East set the ball rolling. This PNM administration knew urgent action was required.

“No matter what they do or say, they can’t get away from the fact that this report was laid in Parliament.”