Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) welcomes the Child Rights Protection Act (19/2020) which came into effect today. The Act defines a child as an individual person from conception to attainment of 18 years of age after birth. It ensures core values reflected in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) including right to life, best interests of the child, non-discrimination, and child participation.
The new Child Rights Protection Act will replace the Child Rights Protection Act of 1991, addressing many gaps and further strengthening the child protection system in area such as reporting mechanisms, as well as alternative and foster care services. The adoption of the Act is a key milestone in the attempt to improve the realization of the rights of children in the Maldives, since ratifying the CRC in 1991.
The Act outlines an extensive new set of rights for children in the Maldives, including prohibition of child marriage, setting the age of criminal responsibility to 15 and prohibiting death penalty for offenses committed as a minor. The new Act also articulates responsibilities of parents and formulates the State’s responsibilities to ensure child protection in the Maldives, including through principles of decentralization, prevention and deterrence. It also identifies vulnerable groups of children and provides frameworks to ensure their protection while criminalizing certain acts such as grooming and failure to report instances of harm to a child.
The Act will further strengthen the child protection system by creating a Child and Family Protection Service which is tasked with protection of children from abuse and harm, including through providing necessary support to parents and promoting the best interests of the child. A Child Protection Council will also be established to ensure coordination between State agencies. Furthermore, a Children’s Ombudsperson will be appointed to ensure the implementation of the Act.
ARC hopes that the new legislation will reinforce the State’s capacity to ensure the rights of every child in the Maldives. ARC reiterates its commitment to work with all stakeholders in implementation of the Act to protect and promote the rights of children across the country.