THIS week may have been the saddest one on record for the Saint Lucia National Youth Council as it grapples with allegations of a sexual nature surrounding one of its executive members. However, determined to get to the bottom of these accusations, the Council launched what it called “a thorough investigation” into them.
The Council described the investigation as a fact-finding mission that was agreed upon by its general council, the executive member in question and the legal counsel for both parties.
“Recognizing the need to uphold integrity, transparency and ensure the trust of our constituents and stakeholders, a thorough investigation will be launched over the next few weeks,” noted the Council in a release issued soon after its members met at an extraordinary meeting, Wednesday.
“Based on a majority vote, it was concluded that a safeguarding process will be adopted and effected immediately to ensure fairness and justice to all parties involved while continuing with our mandate to promote the welfare of youth across various backgrounds and interests,” stated the Council.
According to the Council the investigation is scheduled to culminate on June 25th 2021. It will be managed by an independent committee consisting of a stalwart of the Saint Lucia National Youth Council, a professional that is qualified and experienced in dealing with matters involving sexual allegations and human rights and a third party that is qualified in judicial procedures.
“The committee will report its findings to the general council; and advise on further action. Upon the completion of this investigation process the general council will be better positioned to make a more informed decision on the governance of the organization,” the Council stated.
At the May 12th extraordinary general council meeting, the executive member in question, in the interest of fairness, agreed to immediately proceed on a leave of absence and be relieved of all executive duties and privileges for the duration of the investigation. Notwithstanding that, the general council has the authority to reconvene at any point to decide on the final outcome of the situation.
“The (general) body has agreed to be guided by the findings of the independent investigation to adhere to an international Best Practice. In keeping with our responsibility to serve and protect youth, the Saint Lucia National Youth Council has agreed to provide psychosocial support to the parties directly affected by the situation,” the Council declared, adding that as part of internationally adopted safeguarding standards, it will mainstream capacity building exercises that will better equip members to serve youth in areas such as but not limited to, child safeguarding, confidentiality, crisis management and constitutional reform.
“Additionally, we will introduce a standard office use protocol that will ensure the safety and well-being of every young person who relies on our headquarters as a safe space. We reassure our constituents and stakeholders of a fair and thorough process that aims to bring a timely resolution to the issue and proceed with the developmental agenda of the Saint Lucia National Youth Council,” ended the Council’s statement on its actions to date since the allegations of misconduct within its walls became public.