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KidsRights 2016: Jamaica outperforms Canada, China, Italy and Trinidad

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Jamaican children enjoying better protection of their rights than many in more developed countries.
Ruel Reid: "I certainly want to see if we can move further up the ranking.”
Betty Ann Blaine: "This is no reason for us to become comfortable with what is happening to the children in Jamaica."

Jamaican children are reportedly enjoying better protection of their rights than those living in more developed countries, including Canada, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg and China; and regional states such as Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

The country has moved up by an impressive 52 places in the most recent KidsRights Index, which ranks all United Nations member states that have ratified the its Convention on the Rights of the Child and for which sufficient data is available.

In the 2016 KidsRights Index, Jamaica was ranked 51st out of 163 countries, based on five indicators. These indicators are the right to life, right to health, right to education, right to education, and the provision of an enabling environment for child rights. Jamaica was 103 in 2015.

"The KidsRights Index notes Jamaica's efforts to ensure respect for the views of the child in courts, schools, the family and relevant administrative processes, as well as in judicial proceedings.

"The KidsRights Index also shows the numerous child participation initiatives undertaken by various government agencies, including the Child Development Agency and the Office of the Children's Advocate," said the report.


Very good progress report


In commenting on Jamaica's latest ranking, Minister of Education, Youth and Information Ruel Reid said it is a very good progress report.

"Clearly, we are not where we want to be. We certainly want to be at the top (but) it really confirms to our own administration that we are going to be targeting parenting and children in a very focused way, so I certainly ... want to see if we can move further up the ranking," said Reid.

Founder of Hear the Children's Cry Betty Ann Blaine shared similar sentiments.

"I am very pleased to know that we are not at the bottom of the scale or anywhere near to the bottom of the scale, but having said that, this is no reason for us to become comfortable with what is happening to the children in Jamaica because there are huge gaps between what some of these reports say and what we see happening," argued Blaine.

That call to do more for the nation's children was supported by KidsRights, which called for the effective implementation of legislation that recognises the right of the child to be heard in relevant legal and administrative proceedings.


Human and financial resources


It also noted that while Jamaica has adopted the Childcare and Protection Act, 2004, there are concerns that the human and financial resources are inadequate for the full and effective implementation of the act.

Greece was ranked 53rd, Luxembourg 56th, Canada 72nd, Italy 81st and China was 95th on the KidsRights Index. Meanwhile, Guyana was ranked at 70 and Trinidad and Tobago 79th.

"The Index highlights that economically, better-performing countries do not always perform well in honouring children's rights in practice," KidsRights said.

"These wealthy countries should be able to invest more in children's rights, but fail to do so sufficiently."

Only 25 countries were ranked in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Several countries in the region, including Barbados, Grenada and St Lucia, were not ranked.

Some industrialised states, including the USA and Hong Kong, were also missing from the listing.

The USA was not included because it has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.