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(SNO) — Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia is expressing concerns that wardens/security officers at the Boys Training Center (BTC) will be terminated in favour of a private security firm.
The organization said it has been reliably informed that the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment along with the management of the BTC are in the process of terminating the wardens.
It said it is directly opposed to such a move.
“Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc opposes this direction by the Government of Saint Lucia as it endangers the well-being of state wards,” it said in a statement. “Private security firms will not invest in due diligence, background checks and training to ensure the safety and security of state wards that are already vulnerable, marginalized and at risk.”
According to Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia, security personnel employed by the BTC are screened to ensure they are suitable individuals with the appropriate aptitude to work with juvenile offenders and male children who are sent to the facility for care and protection.
“Further they are trained by international agencies such as USAID, UNICEF, etc in child care and protection protocols,” the organization stated.
It is now calling on the government to take another look at the matter.
“We therefore call on the Minister of Equity, Social Justice & Empowerment to put the welfare of both the juvenile offenders and those who are at the facility for care and protection first and foremost and terminate this dangerous decision to bring in private security at the Boys Training Center,” it said.
Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia is also calling for an audit of the BTC.
“We also call on the Government of Saint Lucia to carry out a through staff audit and investigation into allegations of abuses and why wards often run away from the Boys Training Center,” the organization said.
The BTC is located in Gros Islet and it provides general residential as well as specialized treatment services for male juveniles who are wards of the state.