Stakeholders in the areas of child protection on Wednesday came together to continue planning for the implementation of four international conventions on the Rights of the Child.
A joint meeting was held at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown between the Ministry of Legal Affairs, UNICEF and the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).
This was to facilitate the implementation of four key international conventions on the rights of the child namely child adoption, child abduction, child support and child protection.
Guyana became the first country in the Americas to sign onto all four conventions, which will be implemented and even improved in accordance with Guyana’s laws on child protection.
Representative for HCCH Ignacio Goiocechea said they are eager to start working with Guyana on protecting children and families.
“Guyana is somehow leading the example in this continent; it was the first country to join to four conventions now followed by Honduras. We would like to share the experience of some of these states that have been facing the challenges of implementing and operating these conventions,” Goiocechea said.
The meeting on Wednesday focused on concerns and suggestions in implementing the conventions and also formulating an action plan.
In attendance were Commissioner of Police Leslie James, Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings-Edwards and other stakeholders working in the area of child protection.
“No State that joins the conventions will have all the matters resolved from day one.
“Even states after decades of operation they can still keep improving the way convention is implemented, the way it can be improved, so we think it is excellent from Guyana who gathers from the very beginning all the stakeholders from the child protection arena,” Goiocechea said.
The Child Protection Agency will be the agency to implement the conventions.
Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams noted that many countries have engaged Guyana since it signed onto the conventions.
“Today’s meeting is significant as it will help us chart our next step which is implementation of the conventions through the passage of domestic legislation and building the capacity in institutions that have to give effect to the legislation once passed by the National Assembly,” the Minister said.
He explained that as it relates to adoption, the convention will enhance procedural arrangements in this process.
It will also allow solutions for when a child is abducted and taken to another country which has different legal procedures, to return home without issues.
For child support, the convention envisions a modern, efficient and accessible system to be established for the cross-border recovery of child support and other family maintenance.
“These conventions support other family conventions, they provide a structure for the resolution of custody, maintenance and contact relating to children which may arise if parents are separated and living in different countries,” the Minister said.
Minister Williams said that there has also been an increase in international adoption for children in Guyana both from families and strangers.
Meanwhile, UNICEF Country Representative, Sylvie Fouet noted that this is the third meeting with Guyana and HCCH since 2016 on the applicable particles of the conventions.
“Since then, Guyana has taken several quantum steps to ensure that the agenda for children remains a priority. So to name a few, alternative care policy was revised and adopted last year, revision of the adoption law is on the way and revision of the Kidnapping Act 2011,” she stated.
The Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire are also part of the international Hague network of judges.