21 children taken from Qahal Yahweh compound released from State care
One of the main buildings on the compound of the Assembly of Qahal Yahweh in Norwood, St James.

ST JAMES, Jamaica — The 21 children that were taken from the Qahal Yahweh religious compound in June have been released from State care.

Some of the children were released to their parents, while others have been sent to other relatives. The group is being represented by attorneys-at-law, Peter Champagnie KC and Samoi Campbell.

The matter is scheduled to return to the Family Court on February 28, 2024 for Champagnie and Campbell to make submissions on the issue of the vaccination of the children.

Vaccination clashes with the religious beliefs of the group and thus they have been resistant to the State’s attempts to have the children vaccinated.

This latest news follows reports that new charges will be filed in the case involving 13 members of the St James religious group, who were arrested and charged with violations of the Child Care and Protection Act.

The case came up in the St James Parish Court before presiding Judge Sasha-Marie Smith-Ashley last Friday, but was rescheduled due to the prosecution's incomplete case file.

The court was informed that several statements and additional charges are yet to be added to the case file.

The individuals charged are: Rebecca Gallimore, Christopher Anderson, Nekeisha Harding, Derrick Clarke, Roanalee Maitland, Alicia Meadley, Fabian Nelson, Franchain Paris, Jodian Spence, Jose Foskin, Oral Spence, Rayon Letman, and Ingrid Williams.

They were taken into custody during a joint special operation by the security forces at their Paradise Avenue religious compound in Montego Bay, on June 30.

READ: More charges coming in Yahweh case

The charges came three weeks after children of many of the accused were placed in State care.

The police confirmed that investigators removed several exhibits, photographs, and other material of evidentiary value from the compound.

The Qahal Yahweh compound, which is two doors away from the late Kevin Smith's Pathway International Kingdom Restoration Ministries, made headlines in 2019 when authorities raided the property, leading to the arrest of the church's leader and the removal of three children from the compound.

The raid followed months of complaints from residents concerned about the fate of children within the compound.

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