St Helena Island ‘Falsely Portrayed’
St Helena’s Executive Council (photo attached) – comprising Councillors Ian Rummery, Wilson Duncan, Christine Scipio-O’Dean, Lawson Henry and Brian Isaac – have reacted strongly to a story about St Helena in today’s Daily Mail regarding child protection and sexual offences. Council believes that the article paints a totally untrue picture of the Island, much of it based on hearsay.
Executive Council said:
“Today’s Daily Mail portrays a false and totally unbalanced image of St Helena, and has angered St Helenians, both on-Island and overseas. Those who live on St Helena recognise that there are issues around child protection and sexual crime, but also know that they live in a remarkably peaceful and safe community, a fact invariably noted by visitors to the Island.
“St Helena has the same issues as any other jurisdiction and has made strong progress over the past few years in dealing with and prosecuting sex offenders and improving child protection.
“The two reports cited by the Daily Mail in fact demonstrate a process of continual improvement. We investigate all sexual allegations and anyone found guilty faces the full force of the law. Numerous prosecutions of sex offenders over the past few years demonstrate this.
“The Council has every confidence in the Police force on the Island, which benefits from excellent leadership. We resent the insinuation in the newspaper that somehow the Police do not take sex offences seriously. Quite the opposite is the truth.
“Executive Councillors recognise the commitment of Legislative Council, St Helena Police, Social Services, the Governor, the FCO and all others involved, in taking child protection and sexual crime very seriously. All of us are working hard to improve safeguarding on St Helena, and are very disappointed in the obvious bias in today’s newspaper story.
“And there has been no attempt to somehow cover up the findings of these reports. Their findings have been well publicised on the Island and Councillors have held public and media debates on these issues. To suggest that there is a reluctance to engage in issues around child safeguarding, somehow linked to a wish not to damage tourism, is absurd.
“Councillors and Government here welcome any objective and independent review of our current arrangements. Recommendations in both the reports cited have been implemented and are now well embedded on the Island. There is always more to do and we are not complacent, but the fact remains that child safeguarding provisions on St Helena are stronger now than they have ever been. The way cases are assembled, supervised and prosecuted has been reformed, as have training and professional standards. In addition, our various agencies here are now working closely together to review historic cases. It is a shame that this excellent work went unrecognised in the Daily Mail.”
Councillor and Children’s Champion Christine Scipio-O’Dean concluded:
“We are all alarmed by the inflammatory and biased reporting in the article published today. We have taken great steps on St Helena to protect our children and vulnerable people against abuse of any kind. We know that there are concerns, as there are in any community, but solid progress has been made in improving our safeguarding capabilities. We know there is still more to do, and we will continue to strive for further improvements.”
St Helena Executive Council
16 July 2014