Reform child rights laws
It was noted that at a recent workshop for media workers they were reminded of their duty to help protect children and in this instance particularly with regard to their reputation.
However, no mention was made in the Press of the Mandatory Reporting Protocol Of Child Abuse, which was commissioned by the Child Care Board since 2014 and which is yet to become law.
Mention was also made, quite accurately, of laws currently on the statute books that are designed to protect children. However, as an ardent child rights defender over the past 20 years, I must urge that we reform these laws as urgently as possible. While their intent is still protective of children, the problem is that they are quite toothless in that the penalty for causing cruelty to a child, for example, is a mere pittance in today’s world.
I have tried relentlessly to have an omnibus Children’s Act passed that will incorporate all of these protective provisions and more; that will reform and harmonise all the laws relating to children. The Mandatory Reporting Protocol was to be incorporated into that act as well. I am praying fervently that this will be done in the very near future.
Need to be clarified
For journalists, and I am sure for many others in civil society, these laws need to be brought together and clarified.
As it stands now, these provisions can be found all over the place, as evidenced by the presentation made at the workshop. In this year 2018 this should not be so as many countries of similar jurisdiction have remedied this by pulling such legislation together.
UNICEF funded this initiative since 2013 and we should be in a position to move forward on this with some expedition.
My concern is not just rooted in the fact that I was fortunate enough to be the consultant who worked on both the protocol and the review of the laws relating to children, because my work was completed. My concern stems from the fact that it has not been enacted so children have still not benefited from the exercise.
I continue to live in hope.
– Faith Marshall-Harris
UNICEF Child Champion/Attorney at law