BHS sex scandal…Divisional commander says yet to receive MoE fileThe Bishops’ High School Alumni Association on Monday called for Head Mistress Winifred Ellis to be sent on administrative leave to facilitate an independent investigation into her actions while addressing the allegation of sexual misconduct by economics teacher Coen Jackson.Bishops’ High School Head Mistress Winifred Ellis“It cannot be stressed enough that we do not feel confident that the children who have been made to feel unsafe or traumatised will now come forward and report these (incidents) in their current environment. It is troubling that the students did not feel comfortable confiding in any of the teachers at BHS,” the Alumni Association said.It noted that it is for this very reason that the headmistress should be sent on administrative leave, and a thorough and independent investigation of this matter concluded before a decision is made about her return. “We quite simply do not think that the Ministry of Education has gone far enough,” the association said.The Education Ministry on Friday concluded their investigation and found Ellis culpable of breaching the regulations under the Education Act 39:01 section 35: “Inappropriate behaviour by teachers in school”, which made her liable to a first warning. The committee has since recommended that Ellis be reprimanded and be made to offer an apology to the students and teachers at the institution. It also recommended that the ministry offer training and support to teachers on how to deal with children and sexual issues, in addition to providing counselling to students after they do so request.In relation to Jackson, the committee handed over its investigation file to the Police for further investigation. Jackson is being accused of abusing his position of trust as a teacher when he began grooming female students for sexual activities after they would have attained the age of 16 — the legal age of consent. Jackson has vehemently denied the accusations, but did admit to having sexual relations with two former students who are both in their early 20s.Meanwhile, ‘A’ Division Commander Marlon Chapman told Guyana Times that the Education Ministry did not send a file to him; rather, they gave the okay to proceed with a criminal investigation. He noted that the investigation is in progress, and the Police are building their case.The Alumni Association commended the ministry for their swift actions but noted that their immediate concern is the student body. The statement related that the alumni associations, in conjunction with concerned members with expertise in psychology, child welfare, social work and law, are actively working to ensure that this never happens again. In addition, they have made recommendations with regard to harassment, sexual abuse and bullying.
TORONTO – A Canadian man who languished in an Ethiopian prison for more than 11 years returned home to Toronto on Saturday after being freed earlier this weekBashir Makhtal was sentenced to life in prison for terrorism-related charges after a trial that Amnesty International and Makhtal’s lawyer called unfair.He was greeted by friends, family and supporters at Toronto’s Pearson airport on Saturday after flying in from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.Canadian officials had been working for years to secure his release, but Gloria Nafziger, a campaigner with Amnesty, said the changing political situation in Ethiopia has led to the release of thousands of political prisoners in recent months.“It’s an optimistic time in Ethiopia for people who have been detained for political reasons,” said Nafziger, adding that the changing tides in Ethiopian politics and the country’s new prime minister were likely major reasons for Makhtal’s release.The releases started this year under former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who announced in January that he would drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison camp in an effort to foster political dialogue. They have continued under the new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who was sworn in on April 2nd.Makhtal was born in Ethiopia and settled in Canada after moving here as a refugee, and later moved to Kenya where he operated a used-clothing business.He was working in Somalia in 2006, but fled back to the Kenyan border when Ethiopian troops invaded. He was detained at the border and summarily deported to Ethiopia, a move that Amnesty International called unlawful.In 2009, Makhtal was convicted of terrorism-related crimes and was handed a life sentence without the ability to communicate with anyone outside of prison.Amnesty International said Makhtal reported multiple cases of torture and ill-treatment during his imprisonment, including a lack of prompt care for his medical needs.Nafziger said the Canadian government was working for years to try and negotiate Makhtal’s release. An access to information request by The Canadian Press in 2009 found hundreds of pages of records revealing the government’s frustrated efforts to assist him.“There were constant efforts being made,” said Nafziger. “They would raise it in diplomatic meetings with the Ethiopian government constantly… There’s been, in the last few years, a really high-profile attention being paid.”At one point, Nafziger said that Ethiopian and Canadian officials had agreed on a prisoner transfer, but Makhtal refused, saying he was not guilty and would not come back to Canada just to be put behind bars again.Makhtal’s cousin, Said Maktal, said in an Amnesty International statement that his cousin’s release has been a long time coming.“We hardly are able to believe it is true,” said Said Maktal, who was involved in campaigning for Makhtal’s release. “We send our thanks to everyone who signed a petition, wrote a letter or came to a public event about Bashir’s case.”