Evidence collected by the panel investigating operations at the Government Industrial School (GIS) has been handed over to police for any appropriate criminal action to be taken.
That disclosure came on Monday from Minister of Home Affairs and Information Wilfred Abrahams as he declared that there was “no cover-up” at the institution.
“All of the evidence taken by the panel will be made available to the Commissioner of Police. So, whereas I can’t tell you certain specific things, anything that indicates criminal happening or anything that may properly warrant a more thorough investigation by the Office of the Commissioner of Police will be brought to his attention.
“The Barbados Police Service and the Commissioner of Police will have full access to the report and to all of the evidence that was taken. So anything that indicates an offence it will now be up to the police to do what it is that they have to do. I don’t think that we can be any more transparent than that,” Abrahams stated.
He told a press conference that nothing had been “hidden up” during the recently-concluded three-month departmental inquiry into the operations of the GIS.
The Home Affairs Minister insisted that every issue pertaining to the juvenile correction facility that was ventilated, either publicly or privately, had been thoroughly investigated.
The GIS had been under scrutiny since the revelation by its former deputy chairman Marsha Hinds in March 2021 that a 14-year-old female resident was held naked in a cell in solitary confinement conditions.
There had also been media reports of girls alleging mistreatment and abuse at the institution.
“I can tell you that everything that was raised by the Press was investigated by the panel. In some instances, people did not come forward with the evidence but every opportunity was presented for persons to come forward with the evidence. Even in some cases where the evidence was not there but the panel was still convinced that it was in the best interest of the children to make certain recommendations, they did make those recommendations and we will act on them,” Minister Abrahams said.
“I am not about concealing anything. I am not about any cover-up. You heard from the chairman himself this was a seriously in-depth investigation and it augurs well for the institution, and whatever structure replaces the institution we have taken on board all of the recommendations. This is not political, this is not about saving face, this is about our children and creating the best chance for them.”
Last April, a police probe into the incident reported by Hinds, which had sparked widespread public criticism, coupled with an internal investigation into reports of girls attempting to escape from the Female Unit concluded that there had been no wrongdoing.
At the time, Abrahams made it clear there was no mistreatment or abuse of wards at the reform facility and any such suggestion was “completely baseless”.