The National Commission on Child Protection held its first meeting on Thursday 24th February 2022 to consider quite a busy agenda outlining the 2022 work plan.
Chairperson, Ambassador Dr Erna Athanasius welcomed Minister Patricia Francourt who had joined the meeting to get firsthand information on the 2022 Action Plans of the various stakeholders.
The meeting kicked off with a presentation on on-going work by consultant Marie-May Leon on the preparation of the 7th progress report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). To note, Seychelles was one amongst the first countries to ratify the Convention in 1989. As part of its obligation, state parties have to submit periodic report every five years to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to provide information on progress made to ensure the well-being of children, this being the cornerstone of the Convention.
NCCP was appraised on the various steps of the preparatory work and challenges faced with data collection. Both Minister Francourt and Chairperson NCCP emphasized on the need for updated information on all the good policies and programmes implemented across sectors that demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Seychelles towards safeguarding and wellbeing of children. The first draft of the report will be presented to the Commission at its next meeting.
National Council for Children (NCC) raised concern on the increasing rate of teenage pregnancy. The matter will be addressed through a concerted effort of all members to come up with a national campaign to address adolescent sexual reproductive health.
The Commission heard the action plans on matters of child protection of the following sectors; IECD, Seychelles Police, NCC and Social Affairs Department whilst MOH and CEPS gave a broad overview as the plans are still being fianlised. Department of Education, Family Department and Attorney General’s Office will present their action plan at the next meeting.
The Commission discussed the proposal of introduction of outlets for sale of erotic devices in Seychelles. It was noted that private individuals are importing the devices, but the question that requires to be addressed is whether Seychelles is ready for the commercialization of such products. Comments of the Commission will be submitted to Minister Francourt for submission to Cabinet.
Another important matter tabled at the meeting was the presentation of Seychelles Report on the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) to the African Union Committee on ACRWC on 25th March 2022.
In her concluding remarks, Minister Francourt commended all members who have demonstrated their commitment to the cause of child protection. She noted that the experience and expertise of the Commission creates the synergy to bring about positive results to safeguard children. She pointed out that we need to be the ear and eyes for children and not to be dismissal about allegations of abuse. Our duty of care requires us to take up all allegations of abuse seriously for prompt action and investigation.
Minister Francourt re-iterated the call made by President Ramkalawan in the State of the Nation Address to the Attorney General’s Office and the Judiciary to speed up trial of cases of abuse as this she said will give children confidence in the institutions responsible for their protection and wellbeing.