Questions in Parliament about Aruba child abuse

THE HAGUE–Reports in the media throughout the Kingdom about last week’s death due to violence of a five-year-old boy in Aruba have raised concerns about child abuse on the island in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.

  Members of Parliament (MPs) Attje Kuiken and Sharon Dijksma of the Labour Party PvdA and Joba van den Berg of the Christian Democratic Party CDA have submitted written questions to State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops.

  Rishandro Anastacia died at Aruba’s Horacio Oduber hospital on Friday. He suffered from multiple lesions, untreated fractures and scars. His mother said he had hurt himself at the playground, but authorities suspect child abuse and have arrested the mother, stepfather and grandmother.

  The body of Rishandro’s little brother, Roshandrick “Eugene” Frans (3) was recovered from a makeshift grave in Savaneta on Tuesday. His stepfather had indicated where the boy had been buried and has admitted his involvement in the death of the two children.

  The case, which is being investigated, has caused an uproar in the Aruba community and beyond.

  The MPs specifically inquired about a report on the national broadcaster NOS in which it was stated that child abuse was a severe problem in Aruba. According to the Aruba Children’s Rights Task Force, research has shown that one in every 15 youngsters is a victim of domestic violence, abuse (both sexual and physical) and neglect. The real figures are probably higher because of under-reporting in violence cases and the lack of a reporting code for child abuse.

  In the same NOS report, children’s psychiatrist Rita Zecher-Enahoro said paediatricians want to do something about the widespread child abuse, but are reluctant to file a report for fear of reprisal. Also, doctors can be arrested for violating their medical professional confidentiality. Zecher-Enahoro left Aruba after receiving severe threats.

  MPs Kuiken, Dijksma and Van den Berg asked Knops whether he had taken note of the media reports and the grave concerns expressed by professionals. They wanted to know whether the figures on child abuse were correct. Van den Berg also inquired about the apparent plan of the Aruba Government to establish a domestic violence committee.

  Kuiken and Dijksma asked about a June 2015 motion of Aruba MP Ady Thijssen in which the Kingdom Government was requested to establish a cooperation protocol on domestic violence and child abuse. The wanted to know whether the fact that nothing had happened two years later indicated that apparently this issue was not considered sufficiently urgent.

  Kuiken and Dijksma also mentioned the need for more cooperation in the Kingdom in the area of domestic violence and child abuse in relation to the critical situation in the Windward Islands following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

  “Do you share our view that a joint approach to tackle children’s abuse can no longer be postponed even though the priority after the recent hurricanes is to rebuild?” The MPs urged Knops to give immediate follow-up and not wait another half-year for a joint work conference on this issue.

  Van den Berg asked Knops whether he was willing to support the Aruba Government in protecting the island’s children in line with the International Children’s Rights Treaty through technical assistance or investments if Oranjestad were to request this.

Source: The Daily Herald