GIS – 27 September 2017: The Experience Sharing Forum on the Implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, an initiative of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, opened this morning at Holiday Inn Hotel in Plaine Magnien.
The three-day forum provides a platform to some 50 representatives of African Union Member States as well as international and regional organisations to outline and discuss the status of children’s rights in their respective countries and the role of reporting mechanisms in advancing the protection of the rights of children.
In her address at the opening ceremony, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Marie Anne Janick Jaunbocus, urged participants to become “Ambassadors” for the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in their respective countries so as to better respond to the plight of African children who are the primary victims of all conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics like HIV/AIDS, famine, bad cultural practices and superstitions.
The Permanent Secretary listed out the means by which to offer better protection to children and promote their rights and welfare, namely through African Union and other international instruments that are of great relevance to children, and serve to complement the African Children’s Charter. Mrs Jaunbocus also invited African States to consider ratifying, domesticating and giving meaningful effect to other similar treaties, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which provides extensively for the rights of ‘every individual’, including children.
With regards to Mauritius, Mrs Jaunbocus spoke of the major initiatives implemented for the welfare and protection of children. These comprise, among others, the Office of the Ombudsperson for children responsible to ensure that the rights, needs and interests of children are given full consideration; the Family Rehabilitation/Back to Home Programme; the professionalisation of the Foster Care Programme and the de-institutionalisation of residential care; the Child Mentoring Programme to assist children aged between 10 and 16 years who display mild behavioural problems; and a fast track system to address cases of tardy declaration of birth.
The Permanent Secretary added that the Ministry is still working on a draft Children’s Bill and the implementation of a National Child Protection Strategy and Action Plan developed with the assistance of the European Union.
For his part, the representative of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Mr. Joseph Ndayisenga, pointed out that the objective of this forum is to solicit the universal ratification of the Charter and mobilise the widest political support to this end. “Since the adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 27 years ago, 48 African countries have ratified the instrument, while seven countries have not yet ratified that Charter,” he said.
According to Mr Ndayisenga, synergy and coordination from Member States are required for the full respect of children’s rights on the African continent. He appealed to State Parties to commit themselves to their obligations under the Charter.
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child was adopted in July 1990 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African Unity, and entered into force in November 1999. To monitor the implementation of the African Children’s Charter, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child was established in 2001. The Committee undertakes a number of activities with a view to promoting and protecting the rights and welfare of the child in Africa.
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