Rights of the Child Commission concerned about increase in child abuse cases

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See full statement from the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC):

The Rights of the Child Commission (RCC) notes the report for the first quarter of 2020 by the Child Care and Protection Agency which posits a significant number of child abuse reports. This worrisome situation has been compounded and exacerbated by the existential threat of COVID -19 to both children and care givers.  Note is also taken by RCC of the efforts of various stakeholders in responding to this situation and recommends a more concerted and collaborative approach. The RCC believes that the considerable threat to life imposed by COVID – 19 must be met with the continued resolve of all stakeholders to keep our children safe. Such safety must involve protection from a deadly virus as well as from any form of mistreatment and abuse while they are at home.

The RCC invites all to note the important facts in the recent Report entitled “Global Status Report on Preventing Violence Against Children 2020” produced by the World Health Organization in collaboration with UNICEF, UNESCO, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence  against Children and the End Violence Partnership.  This report stated that violence still affects the lives of up to 1 billion children, with long-lasting and costly emotional, social and economic consequences. In this report, these international agencies reiterate their call to the sectoral stakeholders in each country, to renew their adherence to their mandate.

Therefore, together with these international agencies, we must all reaffirm a commitment to preserving the protection of the rights of Guyana’s children. These can be achieved by continuing to observe laws which protect children; establishing values and norms to promote child rights, creating safe environments for children, enabling parent and care giver support, providing social protection services, fostering economic stability, and promoting  education and life skills capacity. All of these actions are relevant to a societal approach to protecting children.

The Rights of the Child Commission (RCC) also laments the two incidents involving the death of pregnant teenager Rehana Rahaman from Karawab village in the upper Pomeroon, and the alleged murder of Melissa Somah, another pregnant teenager from New Amsterdam in the Berbice River. The circumstances leading to the deaths of Ms. Rahaman and Ms. Somah make us focus on the stark reality of children being mothers and their unfortunate deaths, and the continuous breakdown of appreciation for the best interests of a child, and his/her rights including the right to life and protection. The best interest of the child must be observed by all stakeholders at the level of the family, community and nationally.  We must, at all times, seek to consider and act in a manner that accords with observing the rights of children.

The Commission anticipates that any violations of the law which occasioned the deaths of Ms. Rahaman and Ms. Somah will be subject to the requisite judicial processes and will result in appropriate carriage of justice.

The RCC also notes the partial reopening of school by the Ministry of Education (MOE) for the now completed NGSA and imminent CSEC evaluations. The Commission wishes students well in their CSEC examinations. The Commission also urges the MOE to ensure that no child is left behind due to the fact of missed classes or total absence of schooling, and to enhance preparations for start of school in September, should challenges with Covid – 19 continue. Particularly, the Commission is concerned with all students, whether in urban, rural or hinterland areas, being afforded the capacity to access adequate tuition and to benefit from equitable attention being paid to the myriad of needs of all. Students in all locations, depending on their circumstances, are being affected and must all be catered for.

The Rights of the Child Commission reiterates its commitment to enlivening the articles enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and will continue to carry out its mandate to oversee and encourage observance of all rights of children in Guyana.

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