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Salvation Army asks for sexual misconduct complaints in writing

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Senior officials at the local arm of the Salvation Army have asked customers and employees from its Lyndhurst Road branch to put their complaints in writing as an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and corruption intensifies.

A source close to the investigation yesterday informed the Jamaica Observer that the organisation, known for its philanthropic work to improve the lives of the poor, has convened several meetings as complaints begin to mount.

“A lot of people are telling them things but they have not been putting it in writing. However, they have the clippings from Observer in front of them so they’re asking people to put them (complaints) in writing to help them with the investigation,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.

Several attempts by the Observer to reach Commissioner Devon Haughton for comment have been unsuccessful, following two stories published in the Sunday Observer, recently.

“So now they say we are to write about the things that are [allegedly] happening there, put them together and mail it to 3 Waterloo Road. They say we are to tell them all the things that we’ve seen and don’t like so that they can put it on them investigation. They are having a major meeting two weeks from now… to do with the situation,” the source added.

Two women have come forward in recent weeks accusing the major in charge of the Lyndhurst Road branch of sexual harassment and misconduct.

One woman has claimed that she had to engage in sexual acts with Major Selburn Oates for assistance from the branch, while another woman has accused him of inappropriate touching, tantamount to sexual assault.

Oates has flatly denied the allegations.

One of the women wrote the Salvation Army Caribbean Territorial Headquarters in St Andrew, headed by Commissioner Haughton, but said there was no response to her letter.

The allegations have drawn the ire of residents in surrounding communities who are calling for the removal of Oates.

Last Wednesday, Salvation Army International said a probe was under way.

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Audio-visual tech-fitted buses to secure testimonies from witnesses

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THE Ministry of Justice will be providing two buses, equipped with audio-visual technology, to assist in securing testimonies from witnesses in trial matters.

This was disclosed by portfolio Minister Delroy Chuck who said the vehicles, which will be rolled out soon, will be used to travel to remote areas where witnesses may be located.

These, he said, are among the initiatives underpinning the ministry’s commitment to safeguarding witnesses against intimidation, and advancing their role in the justice process.

The minister’s speech was delivered by executive director of the Legal Aid Council Hugh Faulkner, during the opening of the two-day Witness Care Conference at the Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies, Mona, St Andrew, last Friday.

Chuck said other initiatives include equipping 78 courtrooms with digital audio facilities and 19 with audio-visual recording apparatus, noting that “with this technology, witness intimidation will be significantly reduced”.

Additionally, the minister said legislation has been passed to allow witnesses in human trafficking cases being tried in the Circuit Court, to testify before presiding judges without a jury.

“Our goal, mission, and purpose at the Ministry of Justice is to create a first-class justice system that delivers timely justice to all, irrespective of their socio-economic circumstances,” Chuck emphasised.

It is against this background that the ministry is a significant partner in the conference, “because we know that a first-class justice system cannot exist without the proper care and protection of witnesses”.

He expressed the hope that the forum would facilitate stakeholder dialogue on a public awareness campaign, to educate the general populace that locating and procuring witnesses is a “shared responsibility”.

“Discussions will range from creating an enabling environment for witness safety and security to psychosocial interventions and services for witnesses. There will also be a focus on vulnerable witnesses, as well as discussions on designing multi-care systems that involve different agencies,” the minister said.

These engagements, Chuck pointed out, are intended to provide a “wealth of information” that should be used as “critical investments” to yield “tangible results” for the care of witnesses.

This, he added, is imperative in spurring civic-minded Jamaicans into action, and sending a message to the criminal underworld that “witnesses will not cower in fear, but will be motivated to stand and be counted, and play their part in creating a society that is secure, cohesive and just”.

Meanwhile, Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica Laurie Peters, who also spoke, underscored the relationship between the countries in engagements tailored to advance the local justice sector.

“We (Canada) have been a long-standing and steadfast partner with Jamaica, in terms of putting forth, supporting, partnering on a series of reform-focused…reform-centric programmes, all designed to advance a comprehensive and systematic approach to justice modernisation,” Peters said.

In this regard, she said the Canadian Government is honoured to be a partner in the conference’s staging.

The inaugural event is a key activity under the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) project.

The project is a $19.8-million Global Affairs Canada-funded initiative, being implemented by the Justice Ministry and United Nations Development Programme.

It is supporting justice sector reforms through technical-legal assistance; institutional strengthening; and social order.

Peters said the conference forms part of the JUST programme’s social order component, which seeks to facilitate equitable access to justice services for all individuals, particularly the most vulnerable.

“It is commendable that Jamaica has understood and embraced the importance of focusing on witnesses at this time,” she added.

The conference, which ended on Saturday , was intended to discuss and advance solutions for the protection and support of witnesses in the Jamaican judicial system.

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Waite gets ringing endorsements in St Elizabeth NE

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BRAES RIVER, St Elizabeth — Thoughts of the People’s National Party’s (PNP’s) internal presidential campaign were never far away.

However, Comrades focused on Basil Waite at yesterday’s formal launch of his bid here to become the next Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern whenever general elections are called.

The seat is currently held by the PNP’s Evon Redman, who has long indicated he will not be seeking re-election after completing his single term.

“This is about PNP unity; we not thinking about internal campaign right now,” claimed Councillor Everton Fisher (PNP, Balaclava Division).

There were discordant notes though, that were completely unrelated to the challenge to party President Dr Peter Phillips by former Cabinet Minister Peter Bunting.

A message from Redman, absent due to family commitments, was met with derisive shouts of “No” from the large crowd.

Redman, in his message read by Region Five Chairman Hopeton McCatty, said the “transition” of the constituency leadership had not always been smooth, but he and Waite were “working at it”.

Waite got ringing endorsements, including from his brother, Councillor Mugabe Kilimanjaro (Ipswich Division, St Elizabeth north-estern), who jarringly insisted that his brother had been “sabotaged” for years by elements in the PNP.

By press time the meeting had briefly taken on the look of a stage show as Comrades awaited the arrival of Dr Phillips, who was scheduled to deliver the main presentation.

St Elizabeth North Eastern is traditionally among the rural strongholds of the PNP.

Waite is set to be challenged by businessman Delroy Slowley, representing the JLP, whenever parliamentary elections are called.

— Garfield Myers

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PM tours Corporate Area projects

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PM tours Corporate Area projects

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) hugs Traffic Warden Tonya Morris during yesterday’s tour of the roadwork in Manor Park, St Andrew, while wishing her birthday greetings.

 

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) examines one of the new pipelines which will replace the old ones in Manor Park, St Andrew, while touring the ongoing road projects in the Corporate Area yesterday with other stakeholders. Looking on is E G Hunter, managing director of National Works Agency. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)


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