Government has embarked on a comprehensive review of domestic legislation covering the rights of the child, with the view of coming up with a single Children’s Act.
Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development Steve Blackett made the disclosure here this morning as he addressed the opening of the 92nd regular meeting of the Directing Council of the Inter-American Children’s Institute at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
While acknowledging that changes had already been made to the Maintenance Act and Domestic Violence Act and other domestic laws, he said the review goes much further to examine over 30 pieces of legislation in total, which affect the rights of women and children.
“The Barbados government has been encouraging and supporting the enactment and review of national legislation to ensure its compatibility with relevant international standards on the rights of the child, in particular, the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“In this regard, there has been a review of 37 pieces of legislation affecting children, women and their families, with the view of creating a unified Children’s Act, which would bring together all best practices that Barbados had followed over the years in addition to other international best practices,” he said, without giving details.
His comments come against the backdrop of last week’s mysterious death of a one-month-old baby boy, which occurred over six hours after he was dropped off by his parents at the Divine Day Nursery & Pre-School in St Stephen’s Hill, Black Rock, St Michael.
The death served as a bitter reminder of the harrowing deaths of 12-year-old Shamar Weekes and six-year-old Jahan King, who also passed away under equally baffling circumstances.
However, without referring directly to any of these recent deaths which were met with public consternation, Blackett warned that legislative intervention alone would not improve the environment in which children live.
He said the future of the country depends on the quality of care and protection provided to children, while pointing out that Government was also involved in ongoing education campaigns, as well as training of key stakeholders on a number of issues that impact children.
“We are also aware that an integrated educational programme which is multi-sectoral in dimension and one in which all stakeholders play a part is integral to effectively addressing the concerns of children,” Blackett added.
Representatives from some of the 35 member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) are attending the Bridgetown meeting, which seeks to find solutions to the challenges affecting child and adolescents in the hemisphere.
Also addressing the opening ceremony was OAS General Secretary Dr Luis Almargo who said it was proposed by the Inter-American Children’s Institute that June 9 be designated as The Day of Youth and Adolescents of the Americas.
This, he said, was important since it implied that the day should include the views of children and adolescents in different forums.
“Providing children and adolescents with a voice implies that it is no longer a question of formulating policies centred on children as victims, but on citizens with an opinion and a voice, citizens with the potential to transcend problems, exercising a stake in their solution and promoting in adults the capacity to listen, opening intergenerational diologue to strengthen democracy in the culture and rights,” said Almargo.