Saturday 21 September, 2019

Cops flatly deny trimming Rasta children and feeding them meat

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) says reports that a group of police officers removed and trimmed two Rastafarian children and forced them to consume meat, are false.

The JCF was responding to a claim from a reggae artiste who goes by the name ‘JahDore’, whose given name is Sean McDonald, about the alleged mistreatment of his children, which was published in one of the country’s national newspapers.

The artiste was quoted as saying that the police had removed the children from his home and taken them to a police station after it was reported that the children were being home schooled.

The media report led to condemnation of the perceived development from Culture, Entertainment, Gender and Sport Minister, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange. In a media release, Grange expressed deep concern at the report.

 "I am shocked and deeply concerned by the allegations against the police made by Rastafari Reggae artiste JahDore. The very serious allegations surround human rights abuses, including physical violence and the infringing of religious freedom involving the alleged feeding of meat, which is forbidden by the family, and the cutting of locks.

“If these allegations are true, they are unacceptable and an affront to justice and the peaceful ‘livity’ that we all desire; they should be condemned in the strongest manner; and the perpetrators left to face the consequences," Grange said.

Grange said she had spoken to Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, about the issue, and also commended Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, for ordering a probe of the matter.

Olivia 'Babsy' Grange

"I have also spoken with JahDore and assured him of Government’s commitment to investigate and take appropriate action, where necessary. I also assured him of my respect for and commitment to the Rastafari community and its beliefs, and will fight any act to deprive Rastas of their rights," she said.

But the JCF, in a release on Saturday, said the artiste’s claims are not true.

"The police did not cause to happen, neither the trimming nor (the) feeding of the boys," said the JCF in the release.

The force said preliminary investigations have so far revealed that the boys went to the police station in the company of relatives of theirs.

The police further stated that the boys were taken to the barber and for lunch by their aunt, who had accompanied their mother to the station, where the matter was reported to the police by concerned family members.

The police said further investigations are ongoing into the matter, and more updates will follow.

McDonald had claimed that the police visited his Irish Town, St Andrew home on April 30, and forcibly removed his children, aged four and eight years, after which they were trimmed and given meat to eat.

And while the police have launched their own investigation into the incident, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has launched its own probe into the matter. According to officials from the organisation, they were made aware of the incident following the release of media reports.

“Officials from the organisation have launched an investigation to get a clearer picture of the case,” said Rushell Dickson, Public Relations and Communications Manager at the CPFSA.

Officials from the agency said their investigation will involve interviewing family members of the children and speaking to residents of the community where they reside.

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