ST JOHN’S, Antigua – As government forges ahead with the development of a National Child Protection Policy, calls are being made for changes in the law to provide more protection for children.
Consultant Dr Ermina Osoba said the current law on the books, which speaks to the rights of a child, gives varying definitions.
“We have about eight different definitions: one for school age, when a person is criminally libel and so on. So we need to get our laws in line with one definition of a child,” Dr Osoba said.
The consultant noted that in order for the policy to be fully implemented, the laws “must be updated.
“We need to have one consolidated definition and the one the United Nations favours is that a child is any person 18 years or under.”
Dr Osoba is consultant to the Antigua & Barbuda Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is now in the hands of stakeholders within the various government departments.
The draft document, which will build the framework for the national child protection policy, will be reviewed this week in two separate consultations before it is sent to Cabinet for ratification.
Day one of the two-day consultation, undertaken by the Ministry of Social Transformation and Dr Osoba, vetted the policy and examined the document for necessary improvements, missing data, inconsistencies in data and accuracy of information.
Antigua & Barbuda ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, along with optional protocols to the Convention on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography on 30th April 2002, and the Convention concerning the prohibition and Immediate Action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour.
The draft Antigua & Barbuda Convention on the Rights of the Child contains the second, third and fourth Consolidated Periodic Report, which seeks to indicate the gains made in implementing further the principles and provision since the initial reporting period, between 2004 and the preparation of the report in 2013.
The twin-island state is mandated to provide periodic reports to the United Nations on what advancements is made as it relates to the rights of a child.
However, to date, no such reports have been submitted.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)