GIS - 17 August, 2018: The Mauritius Youth Internet Governance Forum 2018, spanning over two days, opened yesterday at the Municipality of Port-Louis in the presence of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, and Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo.
Organised by the Halley Movement, the forum which is at its second edition, focuses on online child protection and internet governance. It brings together local participants from the IT sector, civil society, academia, business sector and youth advocates to discuss issues related to the protection of children online. It aims at fostering policy dialogue among stakeholders on issues of internet governance and offering a space for people to share information and develop solution on key internet issues.
International experts on the subject including representatives from Facebook, the United Nations Children's Fund, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking international, the China Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations, Good Deeds Day and Afrinic are also attending the forum.
In her address, the Vice-Prime Minister highlighted that ensuring the safety of children should be everyone’s concern, adding that the forum is offering the opportunity to hold an important debate wherein young people will be able to raise awareness regarding the matter and make a difference by sharing their views.
She further pointed out that Mauritius has experienced rapid development in terms of technology and internet access, with the number of mobile phone subscriptions exceeding 1.8 million in 2017, while the number of internet subscriptions amounted to around 1.2 million in the same year. On that note, the Vice-Prime Minister stated that children are growing up in a different environment than that of the previous generations, where they now have easy access to technological devices and have internet at their fingertips.
Moreover, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo underscored that the internet can have both a positive and negative side, adding that as regards safeguarding young internet users, parents have the greatest power to act as guardians by educating their wards about the potential dangers and encouraging them to harness the positive usages. She further underlined that along with raising awareness of both adults and young internet users, it is essential to have a Framework of Regulations for the protection of children and a strong collaboration among different stakeholders.
She recalled that Mauritius has already ratified a Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child and that Government is working on the Children’s Bill which will cater for all aspects of the protection of children including key issues linked to the internet.
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