- The following statement was issued by One Bermuda Alliance MP, Scott Pearman – Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs
Although it is understandable that certain aspects” of the investigations into the Department Of Child & Family Services remain confidential, the “findings of both investigations must be made public,” Shadow Minister for Legal Affairs Scott Pearman said.
Allegations of child abuse and neglect by persons at the Department of Child and Family Services remain a matter of extreme concern for all Bermudians.
Despite several requests, including my own detailed statement on December 5, 2018, the Attorney General has yet to fully explain to the public what has actually happened.
The key people who thankfully first alerted Bermuda to these abuse allegations have been pushed aside. Ms. Tiffanne Thomas, the social worker who ‘blew the whistle’ is now in litigation with the Government. Michael Weeks, MP, the Government Minster who properly authorized the first investigation into the abuse allegations, has been removed from his post.
We have regrettably heard nothing from the Attorney General personally since the suspended Director was returned to the Department. We do not know the outcome of the first investigation Minister Weeks commenced prior to his removal. We are told the second investigation, apparently conducted by an unnamed person at the Department of Internal Audit, will not be made public.
Although it is understandable that certain aspects of investigations remain confidential, the findings of both investigations must be made public.
Bermuda needs to be assured that investigations into abuse and neglect of vulnerable Bermudian children are conducted in the most thorough and proper was possible,” Mr Pearman continued.
These specific allegations of abuse have shone a spotlight on the Department as a whole. This exposure has further revealed the shocking fact that far too many Bermudian children have been sent away to institutions abroad without their voices being heard by the Court.
The absence of qualified and independent Litigation Guardians is not merely a breach of our Children Act, this means that vulnerable children are not getting the support they so desperately need.
The Opposition supported the Government’s decision when, in the face of much pressure, the PLP pulled their proposed Bill on Litigation Guardians. That Bill would have watered-down protection for children and reverted to a position the UK wisely abandoned 40 years ago.
There is a pressing need for qualified and independent Litigation Guardians to be on the job now, safeguarding the interests of vulnerable Bermudian children.
Systemic problems have been exposed at the Department and they must be addressed. The Attorney General must now explain to Bermuda what has gone wrong. Just as important, she must make clear what steps will be taken by her Government to avoid risks to Bermudian children in the future.”
We asked the Ministry for comment yesterday and will update if able.