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Officials learn more about children’s laws, implications

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Fri, Sept 28, 2012

Public officials who, under law, are responsibile for protecting the nation’s children, should now have an enhanced understanding of the two new children’s laws and their legal implications.{{more}}

A number of these stakeholders met at the Peace Memorial Hall Tuesday, for a workshop on the reform and implementation of the National Child Protection Laws and Systems.

The workshop, which was specially planned for members of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, members of the High Court and Registry, case workers at the Family Court and Members and Staff at the Family Affairs Division saw a number of representatives from these organizations in attendance.

The objectives of the workshop are to enhance the understanding of the new children laws and their legal implications, to better prepare the participants for performing the respective roles when dealing with issues involving children, and to facilitate the full implementation of the new pieces of legislation.

Representative of the National Child’s Rights Committee (NCRC) Joy Matthews said St Vincent and the Grenadines ratified the Convention of the Rights of Children on September 29, 1993 and the Ministry of National Mobilization, which is responsibile for implementing the convention, continues to make steady strides and must be commended. She noted that the provisions of the convention are not automatically incorporated into the municipal laws of the state, so the Ministry, through its many stakeholders, is attempting to reform the national protection laws and systems to bring them in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Mathews said the NCRC is aware that several agencies interact with children on a daily basis; therefore, it is imperative that the stakeholders become an integral part of the procedures. She said by doing so, they can ensure proper implementation.

Minister of Youth Affairs Frederick Stephenson said SVG has committed itself to improving its child’s protection laws and systems as it is necessary to put supporting structures in place that would benefit the country’s children. He said, as part of the reform initiative, the ministry is moving forward with massive public awareness campaign drives, with special focus on child abuse and how to deal effectively with it.

The minister said that his ministry is currently working on three documents, namely the draft Abuse Protocol and Reporting Guidelines, the draft United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child State Reports and the two new children laws, the Child Care and Adoption Act #15 of 2010 and the Status of Children Act #21 of 2011. He noted that as part of the activities in working with these two new pieces of legislation, the ministry will continue to convene public awareness and training workshops with various stake-holders and members of the public, as they must be intimately involved in the activities and awareness campaigns.

Stephenson complimented the Family Affairs Division for their hard work in relation to their investigations on child abuse. He noted that reports to the Family Affairs Division have increased, due to the number of awareness campaigns the ministry has been holding over the years. Stephenson also noted that in August, the Family Court put procedures in place for abused children to give evidence on camera. He said a number of activities were held leading up to Tuesday’s workshop, which included whistle stops and awareness campaigns. He added that a number of awareness workshops are scheduled to commence in October to enhance stakeholders’ understanding on the two new pieces of legislation. (API)

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