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Dereliction of duty liable for prosecution

Nov 01,2018 - Last updated at Nov 01,2018

The Education Ministry made the right decision on Monday when it took over the running of Victoria College School instead of closing it altogether for a week, pending the completion of the investigation of the Dead Sea area’s flashflooding tragedy, which killed last week 21 people, the majority of whom were schoolchildren on a trip.

There is no sense in punishing students by interrupting their schooling. It is bad enough they have to endure untold suffering and anguish when their schoolmates died in the tragedy.

The latest decision of the Education Ministry is proportional, selective and appropriate under the circumstances. Most of the students would be preparing themselves for mid-term exams. More advanced students are expected to sit for graduation exams at the end of the school year. Interrupting their courses for any extended period of time would only interrupt their education at a critical time of the school year.

Most teachers at the school are innocent and have nothing to do with the wrong decisions made by some of their fellow staff members. They should not be punished or held accountable for some fatal administrative decisions that they have no connection with.

Once the government probe is concluded, the authorities may then apply punishment to the people who are found responsible for the tragedy. That would not only be the fair way of responding to the tragedy, but also the rational one.

The people who would be charged with dereliction of duty could face trial in a court of law, depending on the nature and extent of their contribution to the tragedy. There could even be criminal charges levelled against some of them. Negligence in the conduct of school trips could be so aggravated as to reach criminal levels.

The authorities must set an example this time, by sending a clear message that a dereliction of duty that leads to death or grave injury is liable for prosecution in a court of law. The authorities now have an opportunity to serve notice on all sides that it intends to follow up, legally, when people, especially children, lose their lives or are grievously injured.

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