‘Respect children’s rights’

— World Children’s Day observed

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, November 21, 2019

In observance of World Children’s Day, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), hosted an event, at the Theatre Guild on Wednesday evening, to mark the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – the most widely ratified Human Rights treaty.

As part of the many activities for this year, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has adopted a resolution calling on all member states to “take action and to strengthen efforts for the advancement of the rights of the child”.

Delivering brief remarks at the event, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Basil Williams SC, said the Convention of the Rights of the Child is an important international instrument as it characterises children as persons with rights. Guyana ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on January 14, 1991, and through this action, committed itself to ensure these rights are enshrined and guaranteed in our society.

“Accordingly, since ratifying the convention, we have made significant strides in the realisation of children’s rights in Guyana. Most notably, through the enactment of Act 10 of 2003, the constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, was amended to decree that the best interest of the child shall always be paramount,” the Attorney General said.

He added that last year, the Juvenile Justice Act was passed, amending and consolidating criminal justice for children who find themselves in conflict with the law. These courts were established to ensure that matters before them are dealt with appropriately and expeditiously.

The Attorney General said Guyana has achieved another milestone with respect to ensuring the rights of children are preserved and protected by acceding to the Hague Convention. These forums were necessary for Guyana to adhere, as family disputes involving children are not confined to one country but sometimes span continents. To this end, these conventions ensure that the human rights and dignity of children are protected.

“The government of Guyana is fully committed to ensuring the best interests of all children are upheld and children’s rights are prioritised. Our accession to these conventions and partnership with UNICEF has allowed Guyana to become more proactively involved in the welfare of our children,” the Legal Affairs Minister assured.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. Karen Cummings made a global pledge to continue to ensure that children’s rights attract the focus of government planning/policies.

“We stand determined to implement meaningful child-centred policies, to further good governance, enhance investments and allocate the necessary resources for the advancement of children’s rights and to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships, including with civil society for this purpose,” Minister Cummings concluded.

Deputy Representative of UNICEF, Irfan Akhtar charged those present at the event, to celebrate our children and continue to listen and respect their views. “We commit ourselves to ensure that 30 years from today the children of Guyana – every child; has every right”.