Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says Barbados attaches the greatest importance to its children and has taken the necessary steps to ensure that their rights are protected.
During a reception at his official residence last night for delegates attending the 92nd Inter-American Children’s Institute Conference, Stuart said in general, countries in the western hemisphere had demonstrated their maturity by subscribing to conventions and enacting laws recognizing the rights of children.
Therefore adults who control society “have to pay the same kind of attention that we pay to our own rights to their [children] rights as well.
“At the core of those rights is the right to enjoy their childhood,” he said, adding that “it is a mark of our civilization in this part of the world that we allow our children to be children, to enjoy their childhood and that we take conscious steps, to protect their rights.”
However, he acknowledged that this was not always the case.
“Fifty years ago children were to be seen and not heard. There was no conception of children’s rights. They were objects and not subjects of anything.
“It is testimony to the great leap forward that we have made not only here in Barbados and the English-speaking Caribbean but in this hemisphere that today we attach the importance which we do to the rights of children, that we recognize that they think, feel, dream, aspire; they can be disappointed, hurt, and all of that gamut of emotions that we as adults experience are also the lot and portion of our children.”
Since 1990 Barbados became signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Stuart assured that this island stood ready to approve any other covenant that recognizes the need for special treatment of children .
“The Government of Barbados is committed to ensuring that whatever conventions, treaties, understandings there may be relevant to this hemisphere and relevant globally that require the adoption, and eventually the signature of Barbados [is] sure to be executed by us because our commitment to the welfare of our children is irrevocable and is profound,” he said.
In updating members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on happenings in Barbados earlier this year, Minister of Social Care and Community Development Steve Blackett had said that violence against children was a source of great concern.
He informed the committee that a comprehensive review of laws relating to children, women and their families had been undertaken, which would shortly be followed with prioritization of areas for reform to ensure the greater conformity of domestic legislation with international conventions.
According to a statement by that committee its, “experts congratulated Barbados on the progress made since the last review in 1999, particularly in the areas of education and health, and also on the success in maintaining budget allocations for children despite the economic and financial crisis”.