Sat | Dec 10, 2016

UN test for Jamaica

Published:Sunday | January 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Treatment of Jamaican children to be examined in two-day review

The state of children's homes and the treatment of wards in the care of the State are among several issues expected to be placed under the microscope when the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) starts reviewing Jamaica's record on children's rights tomorrow.

A Jamaican delegation led by Youth Minister Lisa Hanna will answer questions at the session in Geneva, Switzerland.

The delegation, which includes representatives of the Ministry of Youth and Culture, the Ministry of National Security, and the Child Development Agency, will present information on Jamaica's performance in implementing measures to advance child rights as outlined in the country's Third and Fourth Periodic Reports.

Jamaica ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and is required to submit periodic reports on the island's progress in implementing measures to promote child rights.

According to Hanna, the delegation's presentation will look specifically at the steps taken by her ministry to address issues such as education; health; child abuse, exploitation and child protection; rights and freedoms, as well as family and alternative care, among other areas.

ISSUES ON AGENDA

The two-day session, which will be webcast live, will also look at measures to combat violence against children; the high prevalence of violence in the society and the impact on children; and the situation in children's homes, including sexual abuse, mental-health issues and overcrowding.

The high rate of teenage pregnancy, the number of students who drop out of school, limited access to secondary education beyond grade nine, and the juvenile justice system are also up for review.

The Jamaican Government has been asked to provide the CRC with information about the measures carried out to harmonise national legislation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular with respect to the Child Care and Protection Act of 2004 and the process of reviewing the act.

The CRC has also requested updated information on the status and implementation of the National Framework of Action for Children as a comprehensive strategy for the implementation of the Convention in Jamaica and information on the Child Development Agency as the main entity with the responsibility to coordinate the implementation and evaluation of activities under the Convention.

In addition, the CRC has requested information on how the Child Development Agency coordinates with the Office of the Children's Advocate and the Office of the Children's Registry and details on the Office of the Children's Advocate, including its mandate, the human and financial resources allocated to it, its complaint mechanisms, the types of cases it handles, and the awareness-raising activities it undertakes.

The CRC is also to question the delegation from the Jamaican Government on submissions from local human-rights group about the treatment of children.

arthur.hall@gleanerjm.com