Seychelles ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare to the Child in 1992. The Charter is mostly a replica of the UN Convention on the rights of the Child but some articles address on a deeper level matters that are of the utmost concern to the African Continent. The Charter has 48 articles, most of which provide for the right of the child and others for administrative matters of the Committee of Experts which is created to ensure the implementation and reporting on the Charter by member states.
Seychelles was notified of the open session set for Friday 25th March 12.00 hours local time to meet with the AU Committee of Experts and present and defend its state party report which had been submitted to the committee in 2020.
Minister Patricia Francourt, Minister responsible for safeguarding and protection of children led a strong delegation of eight senior officers to respond and discuss pertinent issues arising from the report and provide clarifications to the Committee. The Chairpersonship of the Committee of experts, consisted of Honorable Joseph Ndayisenga, assisted by Vice Chairperson Honorable Anne Misiwa and Country Rapporteur Honorable Moushira Khattab and nine other highly distinguished persons specializing in various children related domains.
In her statement to the Committee of Experts, Minister Francourt took the opportunity to deliver her apologies for the significant delay in submitting the state party report and assured the esteemed members of the panel, that the delay has not meant inaction. Minister Francourt confirmed that as an ardent advocate of children rights herself, she welcomes such opportunities to show case the hard work of Seychelles in the realisation of children rights. She stated that “the articles of the African Charter set out a vision that we all share – that all children, regardless of background or circumstance, develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. These principles reflect my government’s own drive and commitment to social justice, and our commitment to reforms that ensure that Seychelles is a country that works for everyone”.
Minister Francourt went on to highlight that “as a responsible government, we realise that we may not have all the answers, that is why we recognise, support and work collaboratively at every possible opportunity with the Civil Society sector and all our domestic, regional and international partners in the realisation of children rights in Seychelles”.
The session was an opportunity for the Seychelles team to outline not only its successes but also its challenges as a small islands state. The minister explained that ‘Expectations are high at the local level, and challenges are many and multi-faceted. At service level as a country, we still face shortages of professionals in key areas such as rehabilitation, teaching, and nursing’. However the minister maintained that despite the difficulties, Seychelles remains unwavering it is efforts to uphold the rights of children.
The Seychelles report on the implementation of the Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, illustrates the state’s commitment to securing the wellbeing of all children and meeting their needs.
Seychelles was commended on its frank report, which does not only highlight the strengths but also explain the gaps and the ongoing plans to address the gaps.
The Experts focused their deliberations on the thematic areas of the Charter. They sought further explanations in regards to civil and social rights, rights of disabled children to inclusive education, teenage pregnancy, adolescence sexual reproductive health services, age of criminal responsibility and juvenile justice services. Clarification about measures taken to combat violence against children , adoption procedures , the role of the National Commission for Child Protection and the future of the Law Child Reform Committee, budget tracking across sectors for children’s’ programme and services were also matters of concern raised by the committee.
In her closing remarks, Minister Francourt thanked the Committee stating that it has been a pleasure to share and have open and frank discussion with Experts, all of whom are ardent advocates of children. The Seychelles delegation now looks forward to the concluding recommendations. It is expected that the recommendations will give Seychelles added impetus to continue to make strides in areas that need much improvement contribute to guide further local efforts towards full compliance to the regional and international child rights instruments.