08 October 2019
The Children’s Minister, Senator Sam Mézec said: “This statement has been released as I was refused permission by the Bailiff to speak on this important matter in the States Assembly today. I had sought to give a response following the remarks made by the Bailiff this morning about the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.”
Statement from the Minister for Children
“The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry was tasked by the States of Jersey to conduct a far-reaching investigation into decades of failure in safeguarding children in Jersey. The Panel engaged with islanders, our institutions and victims and survivors of abuse on a scale never seen in our history and were scrupulously independent. Their report was a watershed moment for our island, and the government of the day accepted their findings and recommendations.
“I am making this statement to make it clear as the Minister who is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, I believe it is wrong and damaging for the States Assembly’s presiding officer to denigrate the work of the Inquiry in the way he did this morning.
The job of the President of the States Assembly is to facilitate elected members in fulfilling their democratic mandates. It is not his role to seek to influence which policies are enacted.
“Where the government makes mistakes or adopts policies which are wrong, it is for elected members of the Assembly to challenge the government, and the presiding officer must facilitate that challenge, but not take part in it from a position of privilege where he is not able to be held to account himself.
“In the context of the Care Inquiry the ‘Jersey Way’ was identified as a way of describing a lack of transparency and fairness in decision making, a reluctance to challenge the status quo and an absence of redress for those who suffered what were considered to be injustices. The Bailiff’s statement this morning was a clear attempt to influence and a clear example of the Jersey Way.
“This will harm the healing process post-Care Inquiry. It will have damaged the journey for those who are pinning their hopes on the government to carry out the recommendations of the Care Inquiry.
“The Final Report identified individual and systemic failings and gave a voice to all those who have suffered abuse and revealed the true extent to which Jersey’s institutions failed our children and their families. The Inquiry panel interviewed and heard from hundreds of people during its work and clearly documented in its report how the eight headline recommendations were arrived at.
“The Inquiry’s two-year review recently said that simple actions can do much to change the perception of the Jersey Way. Much work has been progressed in this area since the publication of the Care Inquiry, including independent inspection, investment in services for children and commitments to Put Children First, in a coordinated attempt to address the legacy of our collective failings.
“Moving forward from traditional forms of Governance is never easy, however the
Inquiry was clear that failure to do so will hold back the progress for the Island and keep alive the suspicion and inappropriate influence, being brought to bear on decision making.”