Guyana leads South America in adoption of HCCH conventions

making headways in advancing laws, policies 

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Guyana has been lauded for taking the lead in South America as it becomes the first country on the continent to pursue and strengthen laws and policies on child maintenance, child adoption, child abduction, and child protection.

Those areas are the subject of four conventions under the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).

Implementing agency, the Ministry of Legal Affairs on Wednesday held a joint meeting with HCCH and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

According to the ministry, Guyana has continued to strengthen its efforts, following work between 2015 and 2020 on the four family-related conventions.

It said the Attorney General’s office over the past years has prioritised work on the legislative drafting for adoption convention and has worked with the Childcare and Protection Agency and other entities to ensure that the country meets its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Basil Williams, SC said Guyana has already agreed to several conventions. He added that the meeting would assist Guyana as it works toward the implementation of the conventions through domestic legislation once the National Assembly passes it.

“The implementation of the Hague Family Conventions will buttress the existing local legislation, to secure the protection of our children and provide for their best interest,” he told attendees at the meeting.

The AG noted that Guyana’s constitution requires that the best interest of the child must always be paramount and that the Hague Conventions allows Guyana to ensure it remains so in a changing world.

The meeting on Wednesday was a follow up to two similar meetings held on the Hague Conventions- the Regional Conference on Family Law held in July 2016, and a National Consultation held in September 2017.

UNICEF’s country representative Sylvie Fouet said Guyana has been leading the way in the rights of children.

“To name a few, Alternative Care Policy was revised and adopted last year, revision of the adoption law is on the way and the revision of the Kidnapping Act 2011. They are also looking at the Apostille Convention, which is more related to documentation and relation with Foreign Affairs,” she said.

HCCH representative Ignacio Goicoechea also addressed the meeting while other attendees included representatives from the Guyana Police Force, the judiciary, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.