“A crime against humanity”.
This is how the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) responded to the news of 69 residents being rescued from a rehabilitation centre on the Eastern Main Road, Arouca, last Wednesday in a sting operation coordinated by the Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and executed by the Special Operation Response Team (SORT), Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).
In a statement from the CCSJ, Leela Ramdeen, Chair, questioned the systems in place to monitor and evaluate what goes on in institutions such as this.
This “crime against humanity” touches the most vulnerable in society. There can be no justification of treating persons in this way, the statement said.
“Justice cries out for us to ACT now to protect our citizens who are affected. And there are many other areas in our country where those on the periphery of our society are treated as less than human. Shame on us!”
The CCSJ statement further described the act as an attack on the soul of our beloved nation, noting that many of the persons were kept in cages and some were in handcuffs.
What is also shocking, the statement mentioned, is a media report that senior police officers were told months ago about possible imprisonment of persons. Commissioner Griffith is now investigating possible negligence of duties of officers.
The CCSJ understood that many persons who live in the East “are aware” of this place in Arouca. It quoted a comment from one such person that that church ministry had been in the news on many occasions and nothing had been done.
“For the most part those who run it are in it for the money as they accept street dwellers and mentally ill persons off the streets and people must be paying them to provide shelter for them. It is an unfortunate situation but one in which oversight has been neglected by the authorities.”
To this end, the Catholic Commission for Social Justice is now calling on all right-thinking persons to pray and act to rid our communities/country of inhumane treatment of our people, which, as the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes states, “is opposed to life itself…and (is a) supreme dishonour to the Creator”. —KJ