Hon Roubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare
Mrs Jaunbocus, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare
Members of the press
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to be here today for this final wrap up workshop for the Children's Bill.
This event today brings to a closure a series of consultations and four months of technical assistance for the finalisation of the Children's Bill.
I am proud that the European Union has provided the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare with four experts for capacity building in various areas related to gender, as well as for drafting and finalising important pieces of legislation namely the Gender Equality Bill, the Adoption Bill and the Children's Bill.
The Children's Bill is particularly important because it is focussed on the promotion and the protection of the rights of children. This piece of legislation when approved and implemented, will have a bearing upon all the future generations in the Republic of Mauritius.
The rights of the child are human rights.
Children have the right to non-discrimination, and consideration has to be given to the best interests of the child. These best interests relate to the right to life, survival, development and respect for the views of the child.
The Treaty on the European Union includes an explicit commitment to promote the protection of the rights of the child in EU internal and external action.
In 2017, the EU produced guidelines to put in practice this commitment. The motto of the European Union in this field is simple but powerful: 'Leave no child behind'.
This policy represents the EU contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, one of the key principles underpinning it being to “leave no one behind”.
In order to implement these guidelines, the European Union is working with the Government and the civil society. The objective is to ensure that international standards on the rights of the child are implemented by working with our partner countries to strengthen their own systems.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Very often we hear in the news reports of cases of violence against children. The most common form of violence is physical abuse including sexual abuse. One case of violence or trafficking against children is a case too much, as the Hon Minister has stated.
The European Union has a human rights country strategy for Mauritius, and promoting the rights of children and protecting them from violence forms part of one of the five priorities.
This is why we have partnered with the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Development for a number of initiatives to protect children.
Among these initiatives, I can quote the elaboration of a National Child Protection Strategy and Action Plan a few years ago.
More recently we signed a Joint Monitoring Framework during the first gender policy dialogue between the EU and the Government of Mauritius. We made a number of commitments to monitor cases of violence and discrimination against girls. I am happy that this could be done.
We are also working with the National Human Rights Commission, to sensitise a wide audience on the rights of the child, so as to prevent cases of violence against children. The Hon Minister has already kindly agreed to her Ministry collaborating with us on this project.
I am equally pleased that the EU could support the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare to revise the Children's Bill, which has been under preparation for almost ten years, if I understand well.
There is already a wide ranging legislative framework and a number of institutions that deal with children in Mauritius, but there is still no consolidated or comprehensive Children's Act in the Mauritian law. The time has come for the Bill to be finalised
and submitted for approval in Parliament. We count on the Hon Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare to take this forward to fruition.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have enumerated a number of initiatives we have taken jointly with the Government on the protection of children. These would not have been possible without the personal commitment and drive of the Hon Minister for Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare. I would like to congratulate and thank the Hon Minister and her excellent team for having such a close and fruitful collaboration with the European Union.
I am very pleased that the revision of the Children's Bill has been done in a very participatory approach. Seeing you all here today gives me comfort that all stakeholders, being Government, civil society and private sector have taken at heart the commitment to see through once for all the finalisation and approval of the principles behind the Children's Bill.
One special word of thanks goes to the Ombudsperson for Children, who plays an important role on children rights. I would like to end by thanking the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare and all those who are contributing to the success of this workshop today.
I hope that you have fruitful deliberations over the course of the day.
Thank you for your attention.