Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) together with UNICEF has held a children’s consultation on the proposed Child Protection Bill that is currently at Parliament. Participants included children from the ages 15 – 17 years.
The objective of the consultation was to provide an opportunity for children to learn about the bill and to gather their thoughts on improving it, and also to understand children’s perspectives on key challenges and opportunities for child protection in the Maldives. The consultation was carried out in a child friendly manner with interactive activities focused mainly on three parts of the bill: rights and responsibilities, child protection system and implementation.During the session, the children highlighted the importance of focusing on mental health issues and on prevention of violence in the bill, including bullying, while also noting that adequate focus is needed on vulnerable groups such as children with disabilities.
Children are the biggest stakeholders of the Child Protection Bill, and hence ensuring that their voices are heard in all stages of the bill is important. Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child ensures the right of the children to “express their views freely, in all matters effecting the child”, and ARC believes that it is important for children to discuss and co-decide on matters that directly affect them, including community matters and legal policies.
Children’s Consultation on the Child Protection Bill is a follow-up to the Civil Society Consultations held by ARC and UNICEF on 30July 2018, which formulated a concrete list of proposed amendments to ensure that the bill meets the minimum standards as per Maldives’ international commitments. The comments and suggestions from the children’s consultancy will be added to the civil society comments and formally submitted to the Parliament shortly.