In a major move the Prime minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said that he has asked the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to relook at the security clearance guidelines and make revisions to ensure that sex offenders cannot work with children for a lifetime.
“A person who has been indicted for rape or for the molestation and harassment of children should not be given the security clearance for a lifetime in government, corporate and private jobs which requires them to work with come in contact with children,” said Lyonchhen.
The PM said that this could be ECCDs, schools, hospitals and other places.
“I have asked the OAG to consider a lifetime ban on such people,” said the PM.
Lyonchhen said that the OAG will submit the revised guidelines to the cabinet which will take a decision on the matter.
The Prime Minister’s statement comes in the backdrop of the discovery that the Vice Principal Ugyen Wangchuk (39), who was arrested for molesting nine children at a charity school in Bjemina had been convicted for rape of an underage girl in 2004 when he was government school teacher at a government school in Trashigang.
However, under the current security clearance rules he got his security clearance within a year.
The PM said that he was very closely following the cases in the Bjemina school and the rape case in the JDWNRH.
The PM said that he spoke to the Attorney General and said that there must be thorough and complete investigation and prosecution and that the highest punishment provided by the law must be applied in the above cases.
Lyonchhen said that he visited and interacted with the students in Bjemina and had a separate meeting with the staff and teachers. He said he expressed deep concern and assured support to both the students and teachers.
Lyonchhen said that he also met the lady from Paro in the JDWNRH case and conveyed his deep concern and also offered the full support of the government.
Lyonchhen said that in both the cases there are two issues which must be considered. He said the first is that both incidents happened in a hospital and school where people are vulnerable and so both the safety of students and patients cannot be compromised.
He said the other issue is also that the incidents also cannot be allowed to compromise the reputation of thousands of teachers who work day and night and some of them even take personal charge to identify and help needy students with some almost being like foster parents.
Lyonchhen said that there is a lot of goodwill and compassion from teachers and so one of two teachers undermining the reputation of the majority of other teachers is not good.
The PM said that the perpetrators must be held to the fullest extent of the law for the students, teachers and society’s sake.
Lyonchhen said that he was also closely following the Phuentsholing case of a new born baby thrown out of a hotel room in which a cleaner, principal and teacher was staying. The case is a murder case as the baby was born alive and healthy. He also added that he will be asking the NCWC to look at the possibility of hiring a team of crack and specialized lawyers to take up cases involving women and children.
The PM said that even the necessary laws would be amended to make this happen.
Lyonchhen said that to ensure that this is not happening in other places one main tool would be to appoint counsellors to schools so that they can spot children in distress. The PM said a sense of trust must be fostered so that children can report to the counsellor. The PM said that a code of conduct for teachers already existed.