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Judiciary and Child Law Reform Committee affirm commitment to giving more protection to children |19 June 2020

Judiciary and Child Law Reform Committee affirm commitment to giving more protection to children

The panel of experts: (l to r) PS William-Melanie, Dr Erna Athanasius, Mrs Hermitte, CJ Twomey and Trevor Louise (Photo: Louis Toussaint)

The Judiciary and Child Law Reform Committee (CLRC), established by President Danny Faure on May 30, has affirmed their commitment to affording more protection to children’s rights under the Constitution.

This came about on Wednesday during a dialogue organised by the Judiciary in commemoration of Constitution Day, observed yesterday (June 18).

The dialogue, held at the Palais de Justice auditorium, provided a group of secondary school students from different schools an opportunity to voice out and address concerns about Article 31 of the Constitution pertaining to the special protection of children’s and young people’s rights, to a panel of experts including Chief Justice Mathilda Twomey, Ambassador for Women and Children and chairperson of the National Council for Children (NCC) and the National Commission for Child Protection Dr Erna Athanasius, principal secretary for Social Affairs Linda William-Melanie, chief counsellor of the Student Services Support Section at the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development Desirée Hermitte and founder of Stand Up Step Up Seychelles Trevor Louise.

In her opening address, CJ Twomey, also chairperson of the CLRC, noted great strides in some areas relating to special protection of children’s rights but acknowledged that some areas need greater attention.

“A few months ago, our Supreme Court delivered a judgment in a matter that grossly highlighted the harrowing that children endure when we fail to meet the standards that we had set, when we adopted the Constitution. This should not happen under a Constitutional democracy. There is no place for abuse against children under our democracy, be it physical, emotional, sexual or psychological. It is our duty to protect children,” she asserted.

The panel discussion, moderated by Patricia Francourt, centred mainly on protection from bullying and cyberbullying, whether the law offers adequate protection for children and young persons against abuse, most notably sexual abuse, as well as legal provisions relating to voting and other responsibilities.

“The children of today are conscious of their rights under the Constitution. They have really impressed us with their maturity and the way in which they asked questions and engaged with us when we asked them questions, really gives me hope that our constitution is in good hands. I think in the past we have concentrated mainly on other aspects of the Constitution. We have had the Constitution for 27 years and we never gave children a right to express themselves and emphasise on things that are applicable to their lives and the challenges that they face daily. We wanted to start a conversation with them,” Mrs Francourt said.

“The Constitution, which was drawn up 27 years ago, do children feel that their rights are adequately protected under it? Are we, as adults and persons who protect the Constitution, protecting children’s rights? These are some of the questions that we addressed today and it is convenient for us that this falls at a time when we are reviewing all the legislation relating to children, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, which the committee that the President has established are looking into. So, it is fitting and made the conversation this afternoon really interesting.The judiciary is but one of the parties in the conversation. We have facilitated the conversation and all judges have sworn to protect the Constitution and to protect all the Constitutional rights, and among those rights are Article 31 and also Article 16 for the dignity of children and the protection of children who are recognised as vulnerable in society. This is our commitment and our promise that we will do it,” CJ Twomey stated.

The event was attended by Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, judges, magistrates, members of the CLRC including Attorney General Frank Ally, teachers and parents.

Yesterday (June 18) marked the 27th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, the Supreme Law of Seychelles. Every year, the Judiciary commemorates Constitution Day by shining the spotlight on the important piece of legislation and giving different groups and institutions an opportunity to join the dialogue about the Constitution.


Laura Pillay

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