A paedophile nabbed in Kandy recently with a fourteen-year-old boy, who was drunk at the time of the raid, has been enlarged on bail. The dispensation of justice is a matter best left to the learned judges. Suffice it to say that justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done.
It was only the other day that a minister pleaded guilty to fraud, which is a criminal offence and walked away after settling the State cost! Before him, an influential person had obtained bail on a Poya Day, when a learned judge took the trouble of opening his temple of justice for that purpose! The child abuser concerned, too, is a highly connected powerful businessman who has money for jam. But, we believe justice will take its course and deterrent punishment will be meted out.
When a politician`s son pistol-whipped a man over a prostitute sometime ago, the media made a song and dance about it! But, unfortunately, when a poor boy is removed from a government-supervised child care centre and abused, there are only a handful of scribes to take up the cudgels for him. Where are those child rights activists who are a dime a dozen, rolling in foreign funds? They hold processions in Colombo and conduct seminars in five star comfort, all in the name of child protection and welfare. But, when a rich monster preys on an innocent child, they hide in their shells to avoid trouble. Aren`t they ashamed?
The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), too, is in a deep slumber. (Don`t we hear it snoring?) The warden of the children`s home, from which the businessman had taken the child out for abuse on three different occasions, stays put. (We stop short of naming either the perpetrator or the warden of the children`s home concerned, as that might lead to the identification of the victim.) The other children in that Home are also not safe with a person who has taken to pimping. But, the NCPA, as a spokesman for that institution told this newspaper, is awaiting a formal complaint to take action. Don`t those blockheads entrusted with the task of protecting children follow police investigations, court cases or at least newspaper reports on child abuse? Isn`t the fact that the police have arrested a child abuser and produced him in court sufficient proof? The question is whether with such protectors, hapless children need any enemies!
It is intriguing that the incumbent government, which boasts of its commitment to the protection of child rights, pretends that nothing has happened. How swiftly it acts when its rivals allegedly abuse a state vehicle! Investigations are conducted and concluded in record time and the suspects remanded for weeks. But, the same government drags its feet even after it is revealed that some child care centres have been turned into brothels. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, before the presidential election, promised to look after all the children like his own. Now is the time for him to translate his words into action. He must order a thorough probe into the child care centre concerned forthwith. Regular inspections and stringent action against those who abuse children or aid and abet their abuse are the only way to unmask monsters in disguise and banish them.
What we need urgently to prevent the country from becoming a paedophiles` paradise is not a bagful of promises but meaningful action.
Over to you, Mr. President!